IGO and Wyloo, controlled by Fortescue Metals chair Andrew Forrest, said they have secured land at the Kwinana-Rockingham Strategic Industrial Area from the Western Australian (WA) government, and plan to construct a processing plant that would make a “high value” nickel-dominant precursor material for the cathodes in lithium-ion batteries.
IGO Acting Chief Executive Officer Matt Dusci said Australia is already playing an important role in supplying critical minerals needed for the world’s clean energy transition but needs to increase its involvement further down the battery manufacturing value chain.
Dusci said on Friday Australia’s greatest opportunity lies midway through the battery value chain.
“We need to continue to expand our participation throughout the battery supply chain, beyond just the mining of critical raw minerals, in order to capture a greater share of the value,” he said. “We believe the area where Australia can be most competitive is in mid-stream battery chemical processing.”
Dusci said the Kwinana facility will provide a direct link between WA’s upstream battery mineral assets and downstream customers in the battery supply chain and support the development of sovereign battery chemical processing capabilities in the state.
It will also enable Australia to create greater critical battery metal security and support the building of improved national capability across the battery supply chain.
“We strongly believe that by bringing the right partners together, we will deliver a fully optimised nickel supply chain delivering low-cost, low-carbon, responsibly produced battery chemicals for the global battery and electric vehicle industry, to be delivered through an integrated battery material facility here in Western Australia,” Dusci said.
The proposed integrated battery material facility is to be established on approximately 30 hectares of vacant industrial land leased from the WA government. The site, in the Kwinana industrial precinct south of Perth, is adjacent to the Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide Refinery which IGO runs in a joint venture with China’s Tianqi Lithium Corporation.
Perth-based IGO said in a statement it is, in conjunction with Wyloo, now working towards making a financial investment decision on the project.
That investment decision is unlikely to be made before the end of 2024 at the earliest with IGO and Wyloo, part of the Forrest family’s private investment arm Tattarang, aiming to deliver a feasibility study midway through next year.
Other key workstreams required before a final investment decision can be made include environmental permitting and approvals, the achievement of key commercial outcomes, and engaging a partner with experience in PCAM production.
IGO said it and Wyloo are currently advancing discussions with “a global battery chemical manufacturer” which had expressed “strong interest” in being involved in the project.
Wyloo Chief Executive Officer Luca Giacovazzi said the project will build upon the “immense potential” that exists in WA which is home to some of the world’s highest-grade nickel deposits.
“WA is already a leading supplier of critical minerals, and this is the spark it needs to become a global hub for battery metals,” he said. “There’s a huge opportunity to grow the industry and Western Australian jobs by supporting the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”
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