Australian Lithium Player is Targeting Carmakers Seeking Alternatives Against China
- 12-Sep-2022 5:17 PM
- Journalist: Robert Hume
Sydney: Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia, a Joint Venture (JV) between Chinese group Tianqi and Australian company IGO opened talks with Electric Vehicle makers as they are keen to cater to the surging demand for Lithium amongst Global Electric automakers. In the mid of second quarter of 2022, the refinery produced its first battery-grade Lithium Hydroxide at the Kwinana refinery near Perth in Western Australia. The company stated, "Lithium Hydroxide will be exported outside Australia for producing high energy density for EVs and energy storage system."
Tianqi Lithium Energy is Australia's first and largest battery-grade Lithium outside China. The company's COO stated that the venture would soon start supplying Lithium Hydroxide directly to the Electric Vehicle manufacturers rather than exporting the raw material to be refined in China. The current appetite for Lithium globally weighs over the existing supply capabilities. At the same time, the Chinese players have invested and developed the infrastructure in the prior decade concentrating the major portion of global Lithium refining, besides gaining exceptional netbacks after a sudden vogue of Electric Vehicles clamor for Lithium since the COP 26 Glasgow summit.
The insatiable demand for Lithium demand uplifted investments across Australia in the past couple of months. In August, Executives of Australia's Lithium industry were swamped by the bankers and brokers at the Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in the outback town of Kalgoorlie, taking up deals to secure an estimated USD 42 billion worth of investment dedicated to metal production. However, the growing demand for spodumene-based Lithium has further escalated the participation amongst the major players to ensure long-term supply. However, the Australian market participants have remained restricted in supplying the raw material spodumene rather than refining Lithium domestically. According to government data, spodumene offers soared to USD 2500 per tonne in 2021, from USD 500 per tonne in 2020.
According to numerous market experts, it is anticipated that the demand for Lithium is likely to soar by nine times in the upcoming decade, despite the current expansion in the existing capacities and new players & production sites emerging. The supply will remain inadequate to match with needs of the Electric Vehicles market.