Cleanaway withdraws application to process tailings

It is understood the company withdrew the application on Friday, November 8. Photo: Supplied.
It is understood the company withdrew the application on Friday, November 8. Photo: Supplied.

Waste Management company Cleanaway has withdrawn an application to process lithium tailings at its waste facility in the Shire of Dardanup.

The company had submitted the proposal to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation in December 2018, which involved constructing a lithium waste storage cell at the facility about four kilometres south-east of the Dardanup town site.

The proposal is understood to have been part of ongoing negotiations with lithium giant Albemarle, which began building a refinery in Kemerton earlier this year.

It is understood that commercial discussions between the parties have since ceased.

The plan to process the tailings in Dardanup was met with community opposition - with many concerned about the environmental impact - and prompted a community meeting in March, 2019.

Shire of Dardanup president Mick Bennett said he was alerted to the news on Friday, November 8, and reiterated council's support for the lithium plant.

"From my perspective, I think it is great that our community has been so vigilant against this proposal," he said.

"Council, on the other hand, has been waiting for some kind of report from officers before we were to declare our hand on which way council sees it happening, and that's purely for the safety of council itself and ratepayers by not going out and just opposing it.

"Until the proposal came to council formally, council couldn't do anything at all really.

"They [Cleanaway] hadn't applied for planning approval through council - they had applied for EPA approval.

"We hope that Albemarle finds a location or finds a use for the tailings, which would be best - we've always wanted that to happen.

"No matter what happens from here, council supports the Lithium Plant in its current location."

Cleanaway did not respond to questions from the Bunbury Mail.

More to come.