Construction has started on a massive lithium plant in WA.

Albemarle Corp has begun work at the site of its Kemerton lithium hydroxide conversion site at Kemerton in Western Australia.

Earthworks are starting as part of the United States lithium giant’s commissioning plans, which include several stages during the course of 2021.

Albemarle says the $1 billion development should be able to create over 500 construction jobs and another 500 permanent positions when operational.

The Kemerton facility is set to become WA’s largest lithium plant.

Albemarle president Eric Norris says the company is serious about developing lithium hydroxide operations in Western Australia, and will work “to drive significant shareholder value and meet our customers’ demands.”

The plant will process spodumene ore feed from the Talison Lithium Greenbushes mine, of which Albemarle is a joint venture partner with China’s Tianqi Lithium.

Kemerton will be able to produce an initial capacity of 60,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide, expanding to 100,000 metric tons over time.

Talison Lithium has announced a $512 million expansion of the Greenbushes mine to deliver an extra half a billion tonnes of lithium concentrate a year.