The $400 million first stage of the Tianqi Lithium Plant project was now under construction. Image: Tianqi Lithium Australia.
BY ELIZABETH FABRI
CHINESE-owned Tianqi Lithium has agreed to invest $317 million towards an expansion of its Kwinana Lithium Plant in WA, currently under construction.
The first stage of the project was due to be complete at the end of 2018, and set to produce up to 24,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide per annum.
A second phase would double plant capacity to 48,000 tonnes per annum, and be built adjacent to the first plant, with a construction period of less than two years.
Tianqi Lithium Australia managing director Phil Thick said the company was pleased to be moving to an expansion quicker than expected, with a $21 million feasibility study now underway, which he expected would be complete by October.
“[This is] a great opportunity to invest further in WA during a quiet period in the resources and manufacturing sector. We’re excited to be looking at providing even more long term jobs in the Kwinana area,” Mr Thick said.
The news followed Talison’s (a joint venture between Albemarle and Tianqi Lithium) March announcement it would be expanding its LCE capacity from 80,000mtpa to more than 160,000mtpa at the Greenbushes mine, also in WA and Kwinana Lithium’s primary customer.
“Feedstock will continue to be 6 per cent lithium concentrate from Talison’s Greenbushes mine in the south west of Western Australia which is owned 51 per cent by Tianqi Lithium Corporation,” Tianqi stated.
“The acceleration of the second phase is being driven by stronger than expected growth in global lithium hydroxide demand with the world’s leading lithium industry analyst Roskill predicting global demand for Lithium Hydroxide will rise from 31,000 tonnes pa in 2015 to 64,000 tonnes pa in 2020 and 129,000 tonnes pa in 2025, 15 per cent compound annual growth.”
A final investment decision on the expansion was expected later this year at the completion of the study.