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IGO completes Tianqi Lithium joint venture deal

IGO has completed its $1.9 billion Lithium HoldCo joint venture (JV) with Tianqi Lithium as the commissioning of the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery nears completion.

The company will own a 49 per cent interest in the JV and Tianqi will own 51 per cent. The JV will serve as an entity for both companies’ lithium investments outside of China.

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.

IGO managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bradford said the JV will deliver strong value for its shareholders.

“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.”

The restart and ramp up of the Greenbushes chemical grade plant 2 has started with the completion and commissioning of the tailings retreatment project slated for completion in early 2022.

Kwinana will be Australia’s first fully automated lithium hydroxide refinery once operations begin.

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.”

Bradford said in June that IGO would be looking to expand Greenbushes through the JV.

“As a priority, the joint venture will initially be focused on the commissioning of train one at the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery, as well as working with our partner, Albemarle, on the expansion opportunities at the world-class Greenbushes lithium mine,” he said.

Greenbushes is the largest hard rock lithium mine globally.

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