Tag Archives: SQM

SQM to highlight ESG lithium credentials with IRMA audit

Lithium leader, SQM has commenced a third-party audit against what it says is the world’s most rigorous standard of best practices in environmental and social responsibility at industrial scale mines: the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)’s Standard for Responsible Mining.

According to a United Nations Environment Programme report published in 2020, IRMA “is the only mine-site focused multi-stakeholder standard for industrial-scale mining that offers independent external verification and certification, that requires corrective actions and continuous improvement”.

IRMA is also the only mine-site standard that requires community engagement in all steps of the process, an aspect of focus for SQM, the miner said. The IRMA standard has the most robust criteria related to fair labour and terms of work, occupational health and safety, and community health and safety, it added.

By commencing a publicly-noticed, independent third-party audit, the company can now participate as a Member in the IRMA scheme. This makes SQM the second lithium mining company and the first Chile-based mining company to initiate an independent IRMA audit and, through this, become a full IRMA Member.

An audit report will also be shared publicly upon completion, allowing reviewers to understand both strengths and challenges at the operation, and will guide improvements.

This membership is part of SQM’s established process of working to a high standard of transparency and public accountability in its corporate objectives on environmental matters, sustainable operations and social responsibility, it said.

At the end of 2021, SQM also announced it is participating in the UN’s Race To Zero program, and trialling Chile’s first high-tonnage electric truck to be used in low-emission mining operations.

SQM’s CEO, Ricardo Ramos, said: “This is a fantastic step forward for SQM in our ongoing efforts to continue to lead the industry in terms of sustainability commitments and public reportability of our ESG objectives. SQM’s IRMA membership represents the newest development in a slew of green initiatives, but we are not stopping here. Our aim is to achieve the IRMA Transparency Level by 2022 and IRMA 50 by 2025, and we are firmly optimistic that we can make the changes necessary to meet these carefully considered goals.

“This is an exciting time for SQM as we continue to explore innovative ways to make our lithium production more environmentally friendly, while listening and supporting our local communities.”

Primero rewarded with circa-A$290 million Mt Holland lithium concentrator contract

NRW Holdings’s wholly owned subsidiary Primero Group has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract related to the Mt Holland concentrator project in Western Australia for Covalent Lithium, a joint venture between Wesfarmers and SQM.

The Mt Holland project has been worked on in various development phases over the past 18 months between the Covalent and Primero teams, with the planning and works now culminating in the full award of the circa-A$290 million ($214 million) EPC delivery contract, NRW said.

Primero has been awarded the EPC contract that will process ‘run of mine’ ore at a rate of circa 2 Mt/y and produce an output of circa 400,000 t/y of spodumene concentrate to feed the company’s integrated lithium hydroxide conversion refinery situated in Kwinana.

The project scope covers the vertical delivery of engineering design of all disciplines, procurement of all equipment and materials, site construction, commissioning and performance testing of the spodumene concentrator at the Mt Holland site.

The full execution will commence immediately with site works planned to commence in October and an expected peak workforce of 350 personnel, NRW said.

Primero Managing Director, Cameron Henry, said: “The award of the Mt Holland EPC contract is the culmination of an 18-month journey with the Covalent Lithium team and demonstrates the trust and solid working relationship between the groups in the development of the project. This project is not only a flagship project for Primero and our parent company, NRW Holdings, but also a major project for Western Australia and the further development of the state’s battery minerals supply chain.”

NRW CEO, Jules Pemberton, added: “We are pleased to see the continued growth of the Primero business and, in particular, the scale of projects and quality of clients they continue to attract to the group.

“The project has created opportunities for the combined businesses and provides a great platform for other clients to understand the depth, capability and capacity of the group as a whole from early project inception and feasibility through turnkey multi-discipline delivery and further.”

NRW Holdings recently acquired Primero in a cash and shares deal valuing Primero at around A$100 million.