MELBOURNE China's Tianqi Lithium Corp is exploring investment opportunities in Australia's burgeoning battery minerals sector through its local tie up with Western Australia-based WA miner IGO Ltd, its chief executive said.
Australia is looking for overseas investment into its critical materials industry as it seeks to become a green energy superpower, although Treasurer Jim Chalmers said last month it would be more assertive about who it lets make those investments.
WA already exports all the minerals needed to make batteries. There is enormous environmental and economic benefit in developing downstream processing capabilities near the source of the resources, according to Tianqi CEO Frank Ha in a statement late on Tuesday. We have a very clear desire not only to grow our operations but to be part of the Western Australian community. Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia TLEA has a tie-up with IGO, owns the Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide plant in Western Australia and is the majority shareholder in the Talison Lithium Mine in Greenbushes.
It already operates three lithium processing plants and the Cuola mine in Sichuan.
He said that there would be a possibility that direct investment or joint venture options would be considered to achieve the next phase of the companies' strategic growth ambitions. He didn't say how much money the company was looking to invest.
PWC estimates Australia's critical minerals sector with a value-adding supply chain could add up to 40 billion to the Australian economy by 2035 and create up to 4,500 jobs a year.
State premier Mark McGowan said Tianqi Lithium had his government's support.
It is a priority for the McGowan Government to support Western Australia's participation and growth in global battery and critical mineral supply chains, with the primary goal of increasing domestic value-add manufacturing. The state government said it would slash approval timeframes for green energy projects, investing A $22.5 million $15 million to overhaul its environmental approval process.