IGO Limited (ASX: IGO) has reported that the first batch of lithium hydroxide chemical product has been successfully produced at its 49%-owned Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide Refinery in Western Australia.
The company reports that the commissioning of Kwinana’s Train 1 has been moving at a rapid pace, with a program designed to hot-commission unit processes from calcining, acid roasting, leaching, purification, crystallisation on a batch basis.
Train 1 is set to convert production from batch to continuous basis, with a focus on improvements in output quality to achieve battery-grade lithium hydroxide for sale to offtake partners by Q1 2022, and a rate of 24ktpa of lithium hydroxide by the end of 2022.
Lithium Joint Venture
IGO joined with Tianqi Lithium Corporation in 2021 to form a new joint venture vehicle with a focus on developing and operating world-class lithium assets.
The JV, which is 49% owned by IGO, owns 100% of the Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide Refinery, along with a 51% stake in the nearby Greenbushes Lithium Mine in partnership with Albermarle Corporation.
High-quality feedstock from Greenbushes
The Kwinana refinery is fed by spodumene concentrate stock from the nearby Greenbushes mine. The mine, situated ~250km south of Perth, contains the highest ore reserve grade of any hard rock lithium mine globally.
The Greenbushes operation, comprising a large open-pit mine along with three processing plants, has seen mining activity since 1983 and achieved lithium concentrate output of 764kt during 2019.
Expansion activity has seen Greenbushes capacity increase to 1.2Mtpa of chemical grade spodumene concentrate per annum.
“The strong demand being witnessed in the lithium market globally reinforces the strategic nature of Kwinana”
IGO Managing Director and CEO Peter Bradford said: “First production of lithium hydroxide is the first step of a journey but nevertheless represents a key milestone for the Lithium JV. We are therefore delighted to have achieved this first important step in the commissioning of Train 1 and to have done so ahead of the internal schedule developed earlier this year. We congratulate the Kwinana team on this milestone and their progress over the last few months.
“The strong demand being witnessed in the lithium market globally reinforces the strategic nature of Kwinana which, together with the Lithium JV’s interest in the Greenbushes mine, is rapidly evolving into a globally significant, integrated lithium operation catering to the specific needs of premium lithium-ion battery manufacturers.”
Images: IGO Limited