Albemarle and Government make commitment to South West workforce at sod-turning

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Bunbury MLA Don Punch, WA Premier Mark McGowan, Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke and Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray take part in the sod-turning ceremony to officially mark the start construction of Albemarle's lithium processing plant at Kemerton.Picture: Stuart McGuckin
Camera IconBunbury MLA Don Punch, WA Premier Mark McGowan, Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke and Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray take part in the sod-turning ceremony to officially mark the start construction of Albemarle's lithium processing plant at Kemerton.Picture: Stuart McGuckin Credit: Picture: Stuart McGuckin

Albemarle has committed to ensuring as many as possible of the 500 jobs created at its Kemerton lithium processing plant will be filled by South West residents.

The company’s vice-president of lithium business David Klanecky said he wanted people working on the site that lived close by with their families.

“It’s much easier to retain people when they have a stable job,” he said.

“The investment speaks for itself in terms of its size and we design our plants to last 30 or 50 years — we want to be here for a while.”

His comments were made at Thursday’s sod-turning which marked the official start of construction of the facility which will cost more than $1 billion and be the company’s biggest of its kind.

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, the US Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse and WA Premier Mark McGowan were among the many high- profile attendees at the event.

He said there were no concerns about a skills shortage in the South West to fill the role once the plant was operating at capacity.

“We’ve been working with the Government about how we can train and develop that,” he said.

“We have a couple of years before the site is at full capacity.

“Our plan now is to work with local community on how we can train that workforce.

“We’re pretty confident we’ll be able to build a workforce here.”

Mr McGowan said he had talked to the company about making sure people from the region directly benefited as employees.

“I’ve said to the company that we’d love to see people from Bunbury, Australind, Harvey and Collie trained up to have those opportunities,” he said.

“We want to make sure Collie has a very strong future and we’re working with the company on whatever training needs to be done, whatever transport improvements need to be made for Collie people to access employment here.”

Mr Culvahouse said he hoped there would be many more similar events to attend during his tenure as ambassador.

“Almost 400,000 Australians work for US companies and we want to see more investment of this type because it is a critical sector,” he said.

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