Australia-based Mineral Resources (MRL, MinRes) announced a decision by the MARBL Lithium Joint Venture (MARBL), an unincorporated joint venture owned 40/60 by MRL and Albemarle Corporation, to restart operations at the Wodgina Lithium Mine (Wodgina), in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
MARBL expects Wodgina, which was placed on care and maintenance in November 2019 because of the then weak global market conditions (earlier post), to be restarted to produce spodumene concentrate during the third quarter of 2022.
Wodgina, 120 km south of Port Hedland has installed processing capacity of 750,000 tpa of spodumene concentrate. The mine is serviced by its own 64 MW gas-fired power plant, a 700-bed accommodation village and an airfield capable of landing A320 aircraft.
Initially, MARBL will focus on restarting one of Wodgina’s three 250,000 tpa processing lines. When market demand is sufficient additional processing lines may be recommenced. The start-up and initial operating phase at Wodgina is expected to create 200 new full-time jobs.
MRL and Albemarle formed MARBL for the exploration, development, mining, processing and production of lithium and other minerals from the Wodgina Project and for the operation of the Kemerton lithium hydroxide conversion assets. Under the terms of the MARBL joint venture, MRL’s Mining Services business will provide crushing and camp services at Wodgina. Albemarle will market 100% of the output from Wodgina.
We are delighted that the MARBL JV has decided to restart Wodgina, a world-class lithium opportunity that MRL developed into a mine with world-class potential. It was the correct decision in late 2019 to place Wodgina on care and maintenance though it never dented our confidence in lithium’s long-term positive demand fundamentals. As we said at the time and repeat today, in Albemarle we have the best partner to deliver maximum and sustainable value from world-class assets like Wodgina.
Lithium is one of MRL’s two core commodities, alongside iron ore, and we have worked very hard over the past five years to establish long life operations for both. Wodgina, along with our 50%-owned Mt Marion Lithium Project in WA’s Goldfields and the soon-to-be-completed 40%-owned Kemerton Hydroxide Facility, give MRL a world-class portfolio of highest-quality, long-life lithium assets in a Tier 1 mining jurisdiction.—Mineral Resources Managing Director Chris Ellison