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Albemarle has become the first lithium producer to complete an independent assessment using a comprehensive mining standard laid down by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA).

The assessment process covers 26 areas, including water management, human rights, greenhouse gas emissions, fair labour, terms of work, among others.

Forty percent of these standards require active engagement with nearby communities to ensure dialogue, transparency, and collaboration on key issues such as emergency response, grievance mechanisms, and mine closure planning.

Albemarle received an IRMA rating of 50 at its Salar de Atacama site in Chile, indicating that the mine meets a core set of critical requirements.

The assessment makes Albemarle the first lithium producer, and third mine site globally, to complete an independent audit and have its findings published by IRMA.

“This third-party audit shares with our communities, stakeholders, customers, employees and investors that we are committed to doing the right things, the right way,” Albemarle global vice president of external affairs and sustainability, Ellen Lenny-Pessagno, said.

“We have made many positive changes in how we operate, engage with the community and transparently share information, and we are committed to continuous improvement against this standard.

This new era of lithium requires responsible mining to achieve a just transition to electrification and digitalization globally.”

Albemarle has indicated its intention to carry out more third-party IRMA audits, including for its mines in WA.

Albemarle has a significant lithium footprint in Australia. Just this week, the company purchased Western Lithium for $30 million. The cash for shares agreement is expected to wrap up on July 3, and will see Albemarle take ownership of the Greenbushes and Pilgangoora exploration projects owned by Western Lithium.

It comes just a month after the US company doubled its lithium hydroxide capacity at Kemerton.

The expansion will increase Kemerton’s production capacity by 50 kilo-tonnes per annum, doubling total production to 100 kilo-tonnes per annum, making Albemarle the largest producer of lithium in Australia.