Tianqi produces Australia’s first battery grade lithium hydroxide

Kwinana plant. ( Image courtesy of Tianqi Lithium.)

Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia (TLEA) announced Wednesday the first production of battery-grade lithium from its plant in Kwinana, Western Australia, marking the first-time battery-grade lithium, or lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM), has been produced in Australia in commercial quantities.

TLEA is a joint venture between one of the world’s top producers of lithium chemicals for electric vehicle batteries, Tianqi Lithium Corporation (51%), and Australian miner, IGO Limited (49%).

This is a significant milestone for Australian mining as the sector expands to meet rapidly growing demand for rechargeable batteries, primarily from the electric vehicle and energy storage system industries, the company said in a news release.

TLEA’s Kwinana plant has met internal certification processes with the onsite laboratory confirming that battery-grade specification has been met on 10 tonnes of lithium hydroxide, produced consistently over several days. Samples have been sent for independent verification.

The next step in the plant’s ramp-up process is customer qualification, which will be completed over the next four to eight months.

“We are immensely proud to demonstrate that Australia can value add to its minerals onshore as it enhances its reputation as a critical contributor to the production of batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage, which are absolutely vital for the decarbonisation of the world’s economy,” said Chief Operating Officer Raj Surendran in the statement.

“Today’s milestone proves Australia has the capability and expertise to transition from a ‘dig it and ship it’ minerals supplier to a downstream supplier of value-added product,” Surendran said.

TLEA owns the first lithium hydroxide plant in Australia and the largest in the world to be built and operated outside of China.

Lithium hydroxide produced at the Kwinana Plant will be containerised and exported from the Port of Fremantle to customers around the globe.

Surendran said the first train at TLEA’s Kwinana Plant will now continue its ramp-up towards its nameplate capacity of 24,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide per annum.