Australia is poised to grab one-fifth of the world’s lithium hydroxide refining capacity within five years as demand grows for battery metals that bypass China, Canberra said in a report released yesterday.
China produces more than 80 percent of the world’s lithium hydroxide, a processed form of the in-demand metal, International Energy Agency data show.
However, several companies are building refineries in Australia that would turn locally mined lithium ore into battery-grade chemicals.
If these plans progress on time, Australia could have 10 percent of the refining market by 2024 from a negligible amount currently and 20 percent by 2027, the report said.
However, delays and technical issues could derail the timeline, it said.
Chinese company Tianqi Lithium Corp (天齊鋰業) has already opened a refinery near Perth in Western Australia in a joint venture with Australia’s IGO Ltd.
US group Albemarle Corp is close to opening a plant nearby in a joint venture with Mineral Resources Ltd.
Both projects have been beset with technical problems and cost blowouts.
Australian groups Wesfarmers Ltd, Mineral Resources and Liontown Resources Ltd are also planning to open new lithium refineries.
Australia is the world’s biggest producer of the raw form of the metal, which is vital to the electric vehicle (EV) industry, supplying just under half of global demand. Most of that is sent to China as hard rock ore, where it is refined into battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
Asia remains the biggest market for Australian lithium, but demand is growing in Europe and the US as automakers there accelerate the switch to EVs, the Australian government said in the report.
It cited US President Joe Biden’s climate legislation, the US Inflation Reduction Act, as a driver of refining in Australia. The act grants tax credits on EVs, but requires 50 percent of materials to be produced either in the US or from a country with a US free-trade agreement.
The legislation is likely to boost Australia’s lithium sector, BloombergNEF said in a report, pointing to recent announcements by South Korean battery maker SK On Co and Japan’s Prime Planet Energy & Solutions Inc that they planned to increase investment in the country.
Lithium is on track to become Australia’s fifth-most valuable export commodity, surpassing beef and wheat, and on par with copper and crude oil, the government said.
Exports of the battery metal are forecast to reach A$13.8 billion (US$8.9 billion) this financial year, a more than 10-fold rise over two years.
Most of the growth in export revenue is due to surging prices, which have doubled since the beginning of the year as automakers around the world scramble to secure enough to meet ambitious EV targets, the government said. Lithium ore prices are projected to more than quadruple this year, it said.
SEEKING ENGINEERS: The Dutch chipmaking equipment supplier is planning to hire 2,000 workers for a planned campus in New Taipei City’s Linkou District Dutch chipmaking equipment supplier ASML Holding NV is planning to offer NT$1.6 million (US$51,331) or more in starting annual pay to engineers with a master’s degree at its sites in Taiwan. The major supplier to contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) said it is keen to offer competitive compensation comprised of salaries, bonuses and other financial incentives as it seeks to expand its talent pool in Taiwan. The company, which is planning to build a plant in New Taipei City, said engineers would in their first year be granted 10 days annual leave, compared with the minimum of three days
Two US Federal Reserve officials reinforced expectations the central bank would slow their pace of interest rate increases next month, even as they stressed the need to keep tightening. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said during separate remarks on Monday that inflation remains too high and policymakers have a way to go before completing their tightening campaign. However, they both characterized the need for officials to be judicious as they calibrate policy. “I think we can slow down from the 75 at the next meeting, I don’t have a problem with that,” Mester said during
‘SEASONED’: Chiang Shang-yi is to help guide Hon Hai’s global semiconductor development strategy as the firm accelerates the pace of capacity deployment Hon Hai Technology Group (鴻海科技集團) has hired former Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) cochief operating officer Chiang Shang-yi (蔣尚義) as a strategy officer to assist its semiconductor business development, the group said yesterday. Chiang’s appointment took effect immediately. He is to report directly to Hon Hai chairman Young Liu (劉揚偉). Chiang was the central figure in TSMC’s technology advancement, and once considered a potential successor to TSMC founder and former chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀). He spent the past few years in China assisting Chinese chipmakers Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (中芯國際) and Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Corp (武漢弘芯半導體). Chiang on Oct. 18 attended a
PRIORITY SHIFT: TSMC previously said it would build two new fabs in Kaohsiung, but earlier this month said it was postponing construction of a 7-nanometer factory Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday said that construction of a factory in Kaohsiung to produce 28-nanometer chips is under way, with mass production set to start in 2024. TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, made the announcement after reports about the company’s capacity expansion plans in Kaohsiung. Industry insiders said that TSMC on Friday awarded the contract to build the new fab to Fu Tsu Construction Co (互助營造). The chipmaker, a major Apple Inc supplier, did not directly respond to the reports, saying only that construction had started following the completion of land grading. TSMC previously said it intended to build a