One of Australia’s largest retail conglomerates, Wesfarmers, has this week taken a final investment decision and committed initial funding for the Mt. Holland lithium project which, upon completion expected for the second half of 2024, is expected to produce 50,000 tonnes per annum of battery grade lithium hydroxide.
Wesfarmers, the parent company behind household Australian retail names like Bunnings, Kmart, and Officeworks, also boasts a hefty Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers (WesCEF) business, operating eight businesses across Australia. The company successfully divested itself of all coal business by the end of 2018, pocketing its shareholders a profit of around $680 million.
A few months later Wesfarmers dropped $776 million on a play to enter the lithium market, when it successfully acquired Kidman Resources and its major asset, the Mt. Holland lithium project in Western Australia.
On Wednesday, Wesfarmers announced the joint approval, along with Chilean chemical company Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM), final investment decision (FID) for the Mt. Holland lithium project – located approximately 500-kilometres to the east of Perth and 105-kilometres south of Southern Cross in Western Australia. The total investment including SQM’s investment is $1.8 billion.
“The development of the Mt Holland lithium project presents an attractive investment for Wesfarmers shareholders,” said Wesfarmers boss Rob Scott, who said discussions with key battery manufacturers had progressed well.
“The project capitalises on our Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers divisions’ chemical processing expertise and Western Australia’s unique position to support growing global demand for electric vehicle battery materials which will make a crucial contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.