Australia: In Kwinana, Western Australia, 30 hectares (358,797 sq. yards) of underutilized industrial site has been acquired by the Australian lithium company IGO and the private company Wyloo Metals. A downstream nickel refinery and a high-value Precursor Cathode Active Material (PCAM) manufacturing facility will be built on this property for the development of integrated battery material complex.
The potential volumes of this project are now unknown because a viable study is still in progress but is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2024. The companies will be able to submit information once the study is finished, and an ultimate decision about the monetary investment will be made.
The construction of a new plant is planned for the Kwinana-Rockingham Strategic Industrial region, which is close to Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia's lithium hydroxide refinery in Kwinana. The refinery, Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia (TLEA), is currently operating at 24,000 t/yr and is anticipated to double in production by 2024 with a second phase requiring $190 million investment. Tianqi Lithium Corporation, a Shenzhen and Hong Kong-listed company owns 51% stake, while Australian miner IGO Ltd. owns 49% stake. Australia will produce PCAM for the first time on a commercial scale with the IGO-Wyloo project with an estimated price range of $600 million. Moreover, IGO will contribute 70% of the new agreement's funding, making the ratio 70:30.
Australia's Kwinana-Rockingham Strategic Industrial Area has the potential to generate PCAM for the first time ever on a commercial scale. Two companies have teamed up in order to fully realize this potential, and they are now looking for additional project partners. More than 1100 jobs are expected to be created during construction and approximately 240 jobs when operations commence as a result of the project.
The organization leading this endeavour, IGO, announced on the Australian Securities Exchange that they are now in talks with a major worldwide battery chemistry producer; however, they did not reveal who that manufacturer is. The proposed plant will manufacture "high-value" nickel-cobalt-manganese PCAM required for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicle batteries. Additionally, it is claimed that the project's partners are dedicated to a carbon-neutral initiative with a focus on the development of sustainable products for the worldwide electric vehicle market. An integrated battery material facility will be the result of this joint venture, and it will be located in Western Australia.
In the United States, Canada, South Korea, and Japan, it became obvious that there has been a rise in interest worldwide to build basic cathode production facilities in Western Australia. Australia already contributes significantly to the world's supply of vital minerals as the entire world moves towards renewable energy sources. Advancing beyond the extraction of raw minerals is important in order to further boost participation in the battery supply chain and generate additional benefits globally.