The firm, founded in November 2018 and located in Yibin city in southwest China's Sichuan province, began building the first phase of the project with 20,000 t/yr of hydroxide capacity in September 2019 that started production in September 2020. The second phase of 25,000 t/yr started construction in late 2020 and is scheduled to be completed and start trial operations by the end of this year.
Tianyi Lithium is carrying out technical transformation of the first phase to increase output to more than 23,000 t/yr this year. The third and fourth phases with 25,000 t/yr each will start construction at the end of this year, which will raise the firm's total capacity to 100,000 t/yr in 2024.
The firm has signed off-take agreements with lithium concentrate suppliers Pilbara, AMG, AVZ since 2019 for 145,000-175,000t of supplies in 2021, 215,000-245,000t in 2022, rising to 415,000 t/yr from 2023. The company produces about 5,200t of lithium hydroxide in 2020 and over 10,000t in the first half of 2021.
China's largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer CATL is Tianyi Lithium's second largest shareholder, Tianyi Lithium's downstream clients include lithium cathode material manufacturers sich as Ningbo Rongby, B&M, Brunp and Beijing Easpring.
Lithium salts prices have edged higher in the last few weeks in response to increasing lithium concentrate feedstock prices driven by tighter spodumene feedstock supplies and buoyant demand.
Australian spodumene producer Pilbara Minerals held an auction on 29 July for its inaugural spodumene concentrate trading on its digital battery material exchange. The auction was concluded at $1,250/ dry metric tonne (dmt) fob Port Hedland for a spot deal of 10,000dmt 5.5pc grade spodumene concentrate from the Pilgangoora project, up from $1,000/dmt half a month ago, according to market participants. Robust demand from the new energy vehicle and energy storage sectors has also supported the price rally.
Prices for 56.5pc grade hydroxide yesterday rose sharply to 105,000-110,000 yuan/t ($16,248-17,021/t) ex-works, up by Yn6,000/t ex-works from 29 July. Consumers were eager to build up inventories and expect low inventories and firm demand from the high-nickel lithium cathode material industry to keep bolstering hydroxide prices. Argus last assessed export prices at $16-16.5/kg fob China yesterday, up from $14-15/kg fob China a week ago on tighter supplies in the export market. Many lithium hydroxide producers with sufficient orders have stopped offering prices.