Construction to resume at Kwinana lithium hydroxide processing plant

Construction work will restart in the near future at the Kniwana lithium hydroxide plant in Western Australia after Australia-based exploration and mining company IGO joined the venture at the end of 2020, a spokesperson at joint-owner Tianqi told Fastmarkets on Tuesday May 4.

“It has been a challenging project and we are all very excited about the upcoming milestones,” the spokesperson at the Chinese lithium producer said.

Construction work has stalled at the facility on a number of occasions due to Tianqi’s financial troubles and tight liquidity. Tianqi said in April last year it was exploring asset or equity sales, or the possibility of bringing in new domestic or foreign investors to ease the financial pressure of growing debt.

At the end of 2020, IGO announced that it had entered into a binding agreement to acquire a 49% indirect interest in the Kwinana lithium hydroxide plant (with the remaining 51% owned by Tianqi) and a 24.99% indirect interest in the Greenbushes Lithium Mining and Processing Operation. Both assets are in Western Australia. The two companies expect to finalize the transaction in the second quarter of 2021, pending regulatory approval.

The Kwinana plant will have an output capacity of 48,000 tonnes per year of battery grade lithium hydroxide upon completion, to be achieved in two stages each of 24,000 tpy.

Tianqi had originally planned for the the first phase to production in the fourth quarter of 2022. No new timeline has been shared for the plant’s productions schedule.

Australia is a key exporter of spodumene, the raw material that is processed to produce lithium salts. Most of the processing capacity is currently in China, where the majority of spodumene is exported.

The Kwinana lithium processing plant will allow part of the spodumene extracted in Australia to be processed into lithium salts locally, moving some lithium production away from China.

Lithium is a key ingredient in batteries used to power electric vehicles (EVs) and demand for lithium is expected to grow exponentially in the medium term due to increased demand for EVs globally.

Fastmarkets’ latest assessment of the lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price, cif China, Japan & Korea was $12.50-13.50 per kg on May 6, unchanged over the past fortnight but down from $11.50-13.00 per kg on April 22.

What to read next
Strong growth in battery materials demand in the US is expected from the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the country’s strides in the energy transition
The markets for mixed-hydroxide-precipitate (MHP) and Chinese nickel sulfate have stabilized after a period of volatility on the London Metal Exchange and cooling demand in China, Fastmarkets heard on Monday November 21
Vale Canada and General Motors (GM) have signed an agreement for the long-term supply of battery-grade nickel sulfate, Vale Canada said on Thursday November 17
Global lithium prices have been largely on the rise over the past year, boosted by the global transition to a new generation of energy markets, but new resources could ease pressure on supply and demand
China’s battery-grade lithium carbonate prices slowed further in the week to Thursday November 17 amid caution among buyers following a decline in local futures prices
China has increased the pace of developing vanadium redox flow battery projects in the past two years, and the trend is likely to last for the next few years, given that the battery appears to be a safer and more reliable solution for the country’s mass energy storage needs
We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
Proceed