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Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia has become the first in Australia and one of a few outside China to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide at its plant in Kwinana south of Perth.
The company, a joint venture between IGO and Tianqi Lithium, has announced the breakthrough, sparking congratulations from the Western Australian state government.
IGO told investors the plant has consistently and successfully produced battery grade lithium hydroxide over several days.
“Once product samples have been independently verified, the product qualification process with offtake customers will commence.” IGO managing director Peter Bradford said: “Vertical integration into downstream is a key plank in IGO’s strategy and we are proud to be involved in the first production of lithium hydroxide in commercial quantities in Australia.
“The joint venture’s interest in both the upstream mining asset at Greenbushes and the downstream refinery at Kwinana is emerging as a globally significant, integrated lithium business.” Lithium hydroxide produced at the Kwinana plant will be exported overseas and used in the production of high energy density batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems.
The plant employs 200 staff, and is expected to reach commercial production in the coming months once product qualification is achieved, with a nameplate capacity of 24,000 tonnes.
More than 900 jobs were created during the construction of Train 1, with further local employment expected when construction of Train 2 recommences.
The plant paves the way for further investments in Western Australia’s battery and critical minerals value chain, including in advanced manufacturing of cathode active materials.
State development minister Roger Cook said: “Western Australia has been exporting the minerals needed to make batteries for decades and today’s milestone demonstrates our ability to manufacture battery-grade materials locally for global exports.
“It’s great to see this burgeoning industry making Kwinana its home, further reinforcing the importance of the Industrial Area and the Western Trade Coast in positioning WA as a Global Advanced Industries Hub.”
He said Tianqi was a member and important contributor to WA’s Future Battery and Critical Minerals Industries Ministerial taskforce.
By: Peter Roberts
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