IGO (ASX:IGO) - Managing Director & CEO, Peter Bradford
Managing Director & CEO, Peter Bradford
Source: Gold Industry Group
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  • IGO (IGO) produces its first lithium hydroxide chemical product from the Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide Refinery
  • The focus will now shift to operating the production train on a continuous basis, rather than a “batch” basis
  • Saleable products from the refinery are expected in the December quarter of this year
  • The company holds a 49 per cent stake in the Kwinana Refinery through a joint venture with Tianqi Lithium Corporation
  • IGO is trading 0.91 per cent up at $8.89 per share at 10:28 am AEST

Following a productive few months, IGO (IGO) has produced its first lithium hydroxide chemical product from the Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide Refinery south of Perth.

According to this morning’s announcement, commissioning of the first production train — Train One — was recently accelerated. The program of “hot commissioning” was designed to advance each of the individual unit processes, from calcining to leaching, on a “batch” basis.

Now that production has been formally demonstrated, however, the focus will shift to operating Train One on a continuous rather than batch basis. IGO said it would also work on improving the quality of the lithium hydroxide product to a grade that meets the needs of its off-take customers.

It’s expected that saleable products will be produced from the Kwinana Refinery during the December quarter of this year, while battery-grade products suitable for those offtake customers will be produced in the March quarter of 2022.

Once that milestone has been reached, Train One will be progressively upgraded to its design production rate of 24,000 tonnes per year of lithium hydroxide by the end of 2022. A second production train, Train Two, is currently under construction and is expected to be commissioned in 2024.

“First production of lithium hydroxide is the first step of a journey but nevertheless represents a key milestone for the Lithium JV,” Managing Director and CEO Peter Bradford said.

“We are therefore delighted to have achieved this first important step in the commissioning of Train 1 and to have done so ahead of the internal schedule developed earlier this year.”

IGO holds a 49 per cent stake in the Kwinana Refinery through a joint venture with Tianqi Lithium Corporation — known as the Lithium JV — that was signed on June 30. The same agreement also affords IGO a 25 per cent interest in the Greenbushes mine in Western Australia, which is considered to be the largest, highest-grade lithium mine in the world.

The site consists of a large open pit mine and three processing plants, and in 2019 it produced roughly 764,000 tonnes of lithium concentrate. With the recent completion of one of those plants, production capacity now stands at around 1.2 million tonnes per year and there exists various options to expand that capacity even further.

“The strong demand being witnessed in the lithium market globally reinforces the strategic nature of Kwinana which, together with the Lithium JV’s interest in the Greenbushes mine, is rapidly evolving into a globally significant, integrated lithium operation catering to the specific needs of premium lithium-ion battery manufacturers,” Mr Bradford said.

IGO was trading 0.91 per cent up at $8.89 per share at 10:28 am AEST.

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