IGO and Tianqi Lithium are nearing completion of their joint venture agreement which will allow the two companies to investigate development opportunities at their Western Australian assets, including at the Greenbushes mine.
An internal restructure at Tianqi – a precedent to forming the Lithium HoldCo JV – has been finalised, keeping the $US1.4 billion ($1.9 billion) transaction on track for completion before June 30, 2021.
The JV will prioritise developments at the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery and the Greenbushes lithium mine – the latter being a JV between Lithium HoldCo and Albemarle.
IGO managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bradford outlined how the company saw the JV progressing.
“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,” Bradford said.
Greenbushes is the largest hard rock lithium mine in the world, by production or contained ore reserve.
Bradford recognised the mine and refinery’s potential to elevate IGO as a precious metals supplier.
“Demand for high-quality spodumene and lithium hydroxide has increased significantly over recent months, promising strong returns to our shareholders as this trend, driven by global decarbonisation and electric vehicle demand, continues into the future,” Bradford said.
Lithium HoldCo will become a 49/51 JV between IGO and Tianqi and will wholly own the 48,000 tonne-per-annum Kwinana refinery.
Greenbushes will be a 49/51 JV between IGO partner Albemarle and Lithium HoldCo.
Bradford said both parties were eager to progress with the JV’s intended purpose.
“We are delighted to have reached this important milestone and we look forward to formally commencing our joint venture with Tianqi in the coming weeks,” Bradford said.
“I would like to acknowledge the respective teams from Tianqi and IGO who have diligently and collaboratively progressed the transaction to this point.”