Tianqi set to achieve two construction projects worth more than $700 million

Stephanie Baker   |   October 3, 2017

Tianqi Lithium, a Chinese company, and its head contractor MSP Engineering have achieved 80 per cent Western Australian content through two large construction project worth more than $700 million.

Diversified contractor Georgiou Group, fabrication workshop Pacific Industrial Company, Kerman Contracting and Alltype Engineering are all local winners associated with the projects.

Nearly 200 staff and contractors have been recruited by MSP Engineering in the last 12 months due to Tianqi’s projects, lifting MSP’s total headcount to approximately 235.

Additionally, MSP’s subcontractors currently have approximately 240 workers on both projects.

With the approval of a third major project by Tianqi in the works, local businesses should continue to reap the extra work provided.

The largest project is a $400 million lithium hydroxide processing facility in Kwinana which is a rare example of downstream processing of minerals in WA.

Tianqi is investing a further $320 million in a chemical-grade lithium plant and crushing facility at the Talison Lithium mining operation at Greenbushes. Tianqi is the majority owner at 51 per cent for this facility with US company Albermarle.

In addition, the stage two expansion of the Kwinana plant is being fast-tracked by Tianqi and estimated to cost a further $300 million.

Tianqi is set to remain at the forefront of the global lithium industry through this increased investment and the rapid expansion and demand for long-life batteries in electric cars, mobile phones and other devices.

Phil Thick, Tianqi general manager, said the group was committed to becoming an integral part of the WA and Kwinana business communities whilst supporting a number of initiatives in the education and arts space.

“It would not be logical for us to be doing this and then importing everything for our plant in Kwinana. Hence, we are committed to maximising local content and local jobs during construction and operations.” Mr Thick said.

Lithium expertise in WA are set to rise by Tianqi transferring its experience in China and building Perth up as a global centre of expertise for lithium processing. The appointment of head contractor for both project was a natural fit for MSP as they have over 20 year association with the Greenbushes lithium mine, which has seen several ownership changes over that time.

Tianqi invited Peter McSweeney, MSP’s Managing director, to China in 2015 to help develop a strategy for downstream processing.

“We found it was as competitive to build the lithium hydroxide plant in Kwinana as it was in China,” Mr McSweeney said.

Mr McSweeney said the location and high Australian content was attributed by the slowdown in big project resulting in contractors quoting more competitive rates.

“Most things we need to fabricate can be done within 10 kilometres of the Kwinana plant,” he said.

Construction started in late 2016 for the Kwinana lithium hydroxide plant and is due for completion in late 2018.

Georgiou Group has won three contracts on this project worth more than $30 million, including bulk earthworks, concrete pours, and the design and construction of the control centre.

Pacific Industrial Company has been awarded three contracts also with the inclusion of off-site fabrication of storage tanks and structural steel and structural, mechanical and piping (SMP) works.

The Greenbushes project started work in June  and scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2019, with South West contractor B&J Catalano close to competing the bulk earthworks.

Belpile, based in Osborne Park, starting drilling 450 piles with Georgiou’s due on site next month to start pouring 11,000 cubic metres of concrete.

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Stephanie Baker
As PlantMiner's Marketing Coordinator, Steph has an array of experience covering industry projects and works on creating and maintaining content for our blog so you are receiving the most relevant project and industry news.

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