The Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide Refinery has produced its first lithium hydroxide chemical product, according to IGO Ltd. IGO holds a 49% interest in Kwinana through the incorporated lithium joint venture (Lithium JV) it formed with Tianqi Lithium Corp. (Tianqi) on June 30. Through the Lithium JV, IGO also holds a 25% indirect interest in the Greenbushes mine, a large, high-grade lithium mine.

Production at Kwinana, Australia’s first lithium hydroxide facility, has progressed at pace over recent months with the hot commission of the individual unit processes sequentially from calcining, acid roasting, leaching, purification and crystallization on a batch basis, culminating in the production of the first lithium hydroxide chemical.

With first lithium hydroxide production now demonstrated, the focus will turn to operating Train 1 on a continuous, rather than batch basis, while also progressively improving product quality to a battery-grade specification. It is expected that saleable product will be produced in the December quarter and that battery-grade product for accreditation by customers will be produced in the March 2022 quarter. Train 1 is expected to then progressively ramp up to the design production rate of 24,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of lithium hydroxide by the end of 2022.