Australia’s Lepidico to set up $95m lithium production unit in Abu Dhabi's Kizad

New project to boost the development of the Middle East's electric-vehicle supply chain

A ship is offloaded at Khalifa Port in Kizad, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Ports *** Local Caption ***  bz18ma-kizad-01.jpg

Australian company Lepidico plans to invest $95 million in setting up a lithium production unit in Abu Dhabi – the emirate's first – as it seeks to tap into demand for electric vehicle production in the region.

The new facility will be based in the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) and will help in enabling the development of the electric supply chain in the Middle East, the Abu Dhabi Media Office said in a statement on Monday.

“We are pleased to host an innovative and environmentally conscious company like Lepidico, which aims to establish the region’s first lithium production facility in the Middle East, located in Kizad,” said Abdullah Al Hameli, head of industrial cities and free zone cluster at the Abu Dhabi Ports Group.

The company’s “process technology also aligns with our sustainability principles, and our vision to support innovative environmental solutions that contribute to the long-term sustainable development of Abu Dhabi,” he said.

Lithium, graphite, cobalt, copper, nickel and other metals are all crucial for batteries in electric vehicles, which have risen in popularity following countries' shift to slash emissions. Demand for lithium is set to balloon to $60 billion by 2025 from $8bn in 2018, according to the UN Conference Trade and Development.

Lepidico's latest technology helps in the extraction of lithium and recovers valuable by-products from lithium-mica and phosphate minerals, according to the company. The residue, predominantly gypsum, will be repurposed for use in the construction industry.

Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, Lepidico is a global lithium exploration and development company with offices in Perth and Toronto, according to its website.

“We look forward to working with AD Ports Group as we bring the lithium chemical industry to the UAE and wider Middle East Region,” Joe Walsh, managing director of Lepidico, said.

The move also comes as major Gulf countries, which aim to achieve net-zero emissions between 2050 and 2060, increasingly seek cleaner sources to power the transportation sector.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter of crude, plans to ensure that 30 per cent of the vehicles on the roads of Riyadh are electric by 2030, Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, said during the Future Investment Initiative summit last month in the Saudi capital.

The target is part of a broader strategy to slash carbon emissions by 50 per cent in the kingdom's capital in nine years, he said.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 6:14 PM