Expansions to lithium plants in Australia on hold due to market downturn

Article by Amanda Doyle

CHINA-based Tianqi Lithium has halted work on the expansion of its lithium hydroxide refinery in the Kwinana Industrial Area in Australia, as well as an expansion on its Talison Lithium joint venture at the Greenbushes lithium mine.

The Kwinana Plant is Tianqi’s first outside of China and the A$400m (US$263m) first stage of the refinery was opened last month. It will produce 24,000 t/y of lithium hydroxide when it is at full capacity. Tianqi had approved a A$300m second phase, which would increase capacity to 48,000 t/y, but this has now been put on hold. Tianqi will instead focus on bringing the first phase up to full capacity, which will take 12 to 18 months, according to The Australian.

Talison Lithium is a joint venture between Tianqi and Albemarle at the Greenbushes lithium mine, which will also see a halt in expansion plans. The expansion would have involved the construction of a new concentrator plant at the mine, capable of producing 520,000 t/y of lithium concentrate, increasing Greenbushes’ total output to around 1.95m t/y. This was the third phase of expansion at Greenbushes, with the second having just been completed.

The temporary halt on expansion comes due to a downturn in the lithium market, as the demand for electric vehicles is not accelerating as fast as expected.  

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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