IGO and Tianqi Lithium have finalised the $1.9 billion Lithium HoldCo joint venture (JV) with the restart of a processing plant at the Greenbushes lithium mine in Western Australia already underway.
The restart and ramp up of the Greenbushes chemical grade plant 2 has commenced, with the commissioning of the tailings retreatment project slated for completion in early 2022.
IGO stated the commissioning process of the first lithium hydroxide plant at the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery has also started.
The commissioning process includes the formation of the commissioning team and appointment of a contractor to complete the remaining works.
First lithium hydroxide from Kwinana is expected to be produced in the second half of 2021.
Kwinana will be Australia’s first fully automated lithium hydroxide refinery once operations begin.
IGO managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bradford said the JV leads into the company’s strategy to produce clean energy minerals.
“Our new partnership with Tianqi promises to be truly transformational for IGO and delivers on our strategy focused on the clean energy revolution,” he said.
“We are incredibly excited to commence this journey with Tianqi as we build a globally relevant lithium business delivering high quality, responsibly produced lithium products to global customers while generating strong financial outcomes for shareholders.”
Under the JV, IGO will own a 49 per cent interest and Tianqi will own 51 per cent and will serve as an entity for both companies’ lithium investments outside of China.
Tianqi owns a 51 per cent stake in Talison Lithium, which operates the Greenbushes lithium mine.
IGO first announced its plans to enter a JV with Tianqi in December 2020.
“We are pleased to have now formed our new strategic partnership with IGO and, through the JV, look forward to growing a leading global lithium business and delivering on our shared vision for a clean energy future,” Tianqi founder and chairman Jiang Weiping said.
“Our new joint venture is ideally positioned in this market with quality upstream and downstream assets capable of generating strong financial returns for both IGO and Tianqi.”