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Australia's IGO closes $1.4B deal with Tianqi Lithium

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(Kitco News) - IGO (ASX: IGO) announced yesterday that the transformational transaction to form a new lithium joint venture with Tianqi Lithium over its Australian lithium assets has completed in a deal valued $1.4 billion.

Pursuant to the transaction agreement, IGO and Tianqi have formed a new globally focused lithium joint venture (JV) which is owned 49% by IGO and 51% by Tianqi. The company said that the JV is the exclusive vehicle for lithium investments outside China for IGO and Tianqi.

According to the company’s statement, the JV will initially focus on the existing upstream and downstream lithium assets located in Western Australia, which comprise a 51% stake in the world-class Greenbushes lithium mine, which is a joint venture with global lithium company Albemarle, and a 100% owned and operated interest in the Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery.

IGO added that once commissioned, Kwinana will be the first fully automated lithium hydroxide refinery in Australia, producing battery grade lithium hydroxide from high quality spodumene concentrate from Greenbushes.

Managing Director and CEO Peter Bradford commented, "Our new partnership with Tianqi promises to be truly transformational for IGO and delivers on our strategy focused on the clean energy revolution. We are incredibly excited to commence this journey with Tianqi as we build a globally relevant lithium business delivering high quality, responsibly produced lithium products to global customers while generating strong financial outcomes for shareholders."

IGO said that the commissioning process for the first lithium hydroxide plant at Kwinana has commenced. This includes the formation of the owner's commissioning team and the appointment of a lead contracting firm to complete the remaining rectification work. First lithium hydroxide is expected to be produced in the second half of 2021.

In addition, the restart and ramp-up of Greenbushes Chemical Grade Plant 2 has commenced and the completion and commissioning of the Tailings Retreatment Project is expected in early 2022.

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