Tag Archives: Albemarle Corporation

Albemarle maps out project plan for Kings Mountain hard-rock lithium mine

Albemarle Corporation has introduced its project plan for the Kings Mountain Mine, one of the few known hard-rock lithium deposits in the US.

The plan includes the proposed site footprint, primary physical features and details of the mining processes. Pending permitting approval and a final investment decision, the mine is anticipated to produce approximately 420,000 tons (381,018 t) of lithium-bearing spodumene concentrate annually.

After permit approvals are secured, Albemarle expects to use open-pit mining to deepen and expand the current mine pit to the southwest. The existing rock and soil will be drilled, blasted and loaded into trucks and hauled to various destinations at the mine site. Rock that does not contain lithium-bearing spodumene ore will be separated and stored at on-site rock storage facilities or repurposed for other uses. A portion of the rock that can be used for construction aggregate production is expected to be transported to the adjacent Martin Marietta quarry.

Ore will be hauled by truck to the run-of-mine (ROM) pad used to feed the on-site mineral processing facility at an average rate of circa-3.1 million tons per year (circa-8,900 tons per day). Albemarle intends to subsequently transport the spodumene concentrate by truck and/or rail to an off-site conversion plant at the rate of approximately 420,000 tons per year.

“The Kings Mountain Mine is a world-class resource that can provide an essential element to power our future,” Albemarle Energy Storage President, Eric Norris, said. “We are pleased to share our plan with the community as we continue to seek their engagement to redevelop this rich, domestic resource in a safe and responsible manner.”

The proposed project plan, shared this week at a community open house and available online, includes several environmentally and socially responsible mining features and practices:

  • Reduced land disturbance: The plan includes the use of the former Kings Mountain Mine to support mining operations and the use of a former mica mine for tailings storage—both designed to minimize the amount of land disturbance necessary.;
  • Sustainable materials management: Non-ore-bearing material from mining operations is planned to be transferred to the adjacent Martin Marietta Kings Mountain Quarry for processing and sale as construction aggregate. The arrangement is intended to contribute to a more sustainable management of resources and a portion of the sales are planned to be used to support Kings Mountain and the surrounding communities. In addition, Albemarle is currently testing secondary markets for processed ore tailings, which may have applications in ceramics or construction materials industries;
  • High standards and accountability: Planning for environmental protection measures and community engagement has been conducted to align with the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance’s (IRMA) Standard for Responsible Mining, a comprehensive set of requirements designed to reduce adverse environmental and social impacts and create benefits for local communities. Once operational, the mine would undergo a full third-party verification assessment conducted by an IRMA-approved certification body; and
  • Sustainable water management: The mine is designed to operate with collected precipitation to support its operations, relying on external sources only for drinking water, fire protection and sanitary purposes.

In September 2023, Albemarle Corporation signed agreements with Caterpillar Inc to collaborate on solutions to support the full circular battery value chain and sustainable mining operations. This aimed to support Albemarle’s efforts to establish Kings Mountain, North Carolina as the first-ever zero-emissions lithium mine site in North America, with the efforts including use of next-generation, battery-powered mining equipment.

In 2023, Albemarle was awarded a $90 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to help support the purchase of a fleet of mining equipment as part of the mine’s redevelopment. In 2022, Albemarle was also awarded a $150 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles.

Along with the project plan, Albemarle also commenced the public participation portion of a voluntary Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. As a key element of IRMA’s Standard for Responsible Mining, the assessment seeks to better understand and manage potential impacts from the proposed mine with consideration to the surrounding environment, local economy and the community’s health and safety. Albemarle plans to use the outcomes of the assessment to develop environmental and social management plans to minimise adverse impacts and enhance benefits.

Metso Outotec pyro processing and comminution lines set for Albemarle’s Kemerton lithium plant

Albemarle Lithium Pty Ltd has awarded Metso Outotec an order for two pyro processing and comminution lines for its Kemerton lithium hydroxide processing plant in Western Australia, the OEM says.

Previously, Metso Outotec delivered two similar pyro process lines to the plant as part of another order.

Metso Outotec’s delivery consists of rotary calciner kilns and coolers, Premier™ ball mills, acid roast indirect rotary kilns and coolers for the pyro processing lines, as well as advisory services for installation and commissioning. Over 90% of the approximately €55 million ($58.6 million) order value is booked in Metso Outotec’s Metals fourth-quarter (December-quarter) orders received and the rest in its Minerals’ orders received.

Chris Urban, Vice President, Heat Transfer at Metso Outotec, said: “Albemarle is one of the largest lithium producers in the world. Commissioning and ramp up of the first two pyro lines delivered by us is currently taking place at the Kemerton plant in Western Australia, and we are delighted to now have received orders for two additional Metso Outotec pyro processing lines.”

The Kemerton plant initially consisted of three production trains, each producing 20,000 t/y of lithium hydroxide, with a potential expansion to five trains that will see production increase to 100,000 t/y by around 2025. The plant will be supplied with lithium concentrate produced at the nearby Greenbushes mine.

Macmahon Holdings to take on load and haul duties at Greenbushes lithium mine

Macmahon Holdings says it has received a Notice of Award from Talison Lithium Australia for the load and haul mining works at its Greenbushes lithium project in the southwest of Western Australia.

Talison Lithium is a Western Australia-based mining company which is 51%-owned by a joint venture comprising Tianqi Lithium Corporation and IGO Limited, and 49%-owned by Albemarle Corporation.

Together with its predecessor company, Talison Lithium has been producing lithium concentrates at Greenbushes since 1983 which are ultimately used in lithium batteries. The Greenbushes project, directly south and adjacent to the town of Greenbushes in Western Australia, is a major supplier of lithium mineral concentrates.

The scope of works on the Greenbushes project includes open-pit mining activities of load and haul, and crusher feed.

Subject to final documentation of certain in-principle agreed terms and signing within 30 days, the contract will commence on July 1, 2023, for a seven-year period and has an option to extend for up to two years. The contract is estimated to generate revenue in excess of A$1.1 billion ($731 million) over its initial seven-year term.

Key mining equipment required for commencement will be from deployment of Macmahon’s existing available mining fleet with minimal impact to capital expenditure in the 2023 financial year, Macmahon says. The maximum remaining capital expenditure required to support this project is spread from the 2024 to 2028 financial years (inclusive) and totals approximately A$128 million. The five-year spread of this capital spend enables Macmahon to maintain a strong balance sheet and enhance return on average capital employed performance, and a number of opportunities exist to optimise this further.

Macmahon said: “The Greenbushes project is in an attractive location, has an existing long-term and loyal workforce with many based in the area. We are eager to engage with them and other people to discuss employment opportunities on the project to build a world-class team. Engaging with the on-site team is a priority for us upon award given the high level of performance we have noted on the project.”

Macmahon CEO and Managing Director, Michael Finnegan, said: “We are delighted to have received the Notice of Award from Talison Lithium for load and haul mining services at its Greenbushes lithium project and look forward to finalising the contract. We very much value the relationship we have forged with Talison Lithium and will continue to build on it. The award of this contract delivers on our commodity diversification strategy into future relevant commodities.”