Australian mining company Independence Group (IGO) has finalised the $1.4bn joint venture (JV) deal with China’s Tianqi Lithium for a stake in the latter’s Australian assets.

The two parties signed a binding agreement for the stake acquisition in December 2020.

Under the contract, they have established a new globally focused lithium JV, which will be the firm’s exclusive vehicle for lithium investments outside China.

IGO and Tianqi respectively have 49% and 51% stakes in the JV.

The JV will initially focus on the existing upstream and downstream lithium assets in Western Australia.

This includes a 51% stake in the Greenbushes Lithium Mine in partnership with lithium company Albemarle holding the remaining 49% interest.

The JV also includes a 100% owned and operated interest in the fully automated Kwinana lithium hydroxide refinery.

The refinery will be equipped to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide from high-quality spodumene concentrate sourced from the Greenbushe mine.

IGO managing director and CEO Peter Bradford said: “Our new partnership with Tianqi promises to be truly transformational for IGO and delivers on our strategy focused on the clean energy revolution.”

Tianqi founder and chairman Jiang Weiping said: “Our new joint venture is ideally positioned in this market with quality upstream and downstream assets capable of generating strong financial returns for both IGO and Tianqi.”

The Kwinana plant is planned to commence production in the second half of 2021.

The partners have started restart and ramp-up of Greenbushes Chemical Grade Plant 2 while commissioning of the tailings retreatment project is slated in early 2022.