IGO, Tianqi complete lithium joint venture deal

Australia-listed IGO Ltd has completed a transaction to form a new lithium joint venture with Chinese lithium producer Tianqi Lithium over the latter’s Australian lithium assets, the company said on Wednesday June 30.

In December 2020, the companies signed an initial investment agreement which saw Tianqi’s wholly-owned subsidiary Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia Pty Ltd (TLEA) bring in IGO as a strategic investor.

The joint venture is 49% owned by IGO and 51% owned by Tianqi. It will initially focus on the existing upstream and downstream lithium assets in Western Australia, which comprise a 51% stake in the Greenbushes lithium mine, and a 100% owned and operated interest in the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery, according to IGO.

The remaining 49% stake in the Greenbushes mine is held by United States-based lithium producer Albemarle.

Once commissioned, the Kwinana refinery will be the first fully automated lithium hydroxide refinery in Australia, producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide from the spodumene concentrates from Greenbushes.

The commissioning process for the first lithium hydroxide plant at Kwinana has started, with production expected to commence in the second half of 2021, the company said.

In addition, the restart and ramp-up of the Greenbushes chemical grade plant 2 is under way and completion and commissioning of the tailings retreatment project is expected in early 2022, it added.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea was $14.50-16 per kg on June 24, narrowing upward by 50 cents from $14-16 per kg one week ago. The price is up by nearly 70% so far this year.

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