A joint venture between Tianqi Lithium and IGO Ltd has produced Australia's first batch of lithium hydroxide, as demand for the chemical used in electric-vehicle (EV) batteries is set to gain speed, IGO said on Monday.
IGO gave debt-laden Tianqi a lifeline late last year when it agreed to pay $1.4 billion for a stake in the Chinese company's Australian lithium assets, namely the Kwinana processing plant and the world's biggest lithium mine, Greenbushes, both in Western Australia.
Tianqi had postponed commissioning of the Kwinana hydroxide plant in March 2020, citing liquidity problems, after a precipitous fall in lithium prices blamed on oversupply. Lithium prices are up sharply in 2021 on resurgent demand.
Lithium hydroxide is used to make cathodes for lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles.
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