IGO and Tianqi Lithium’s Joint Venture (JV) has produced Australia’s first batch of lithium hydroxide, a key component used in electric vehicle batteries, IGO announced on Monday.
With demand for EV batteries on the rise, IGO invested in Tianqi for a $1.4bn stake in the Chinese company’s lithium assets in Kwinana processing plant in Australia and the world’s largest lithium mine, Greennbushes. All indicators point towards the EV sector growing at an unprecedented rate, says IGO.
Tianqi postponed the commissioning of the Kwinana plant in 2020, stating liquidity issues and a fall in lithium prices due to oversupply.
Kwinana plant is projected to produce 24,000mt per year by the end of 2022 and capacity expansion is expected to double by 2024. Saleable lithium hydroxide will be produced by the end of this year and a high-quality grade by the March quarter in 2022.
Lithium-hydroxide is used to make cathodes for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. IGO is focused on strengthening its position in the battery market. The company is in talks to acquire Australia’s nickel miner Western Australia to secure key raw materials for EV batteries.