This $136m lithium deal may be just the start of something big – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – January 9, 2023)

They are the majority owners of Australia’s best lithium address, but now IGO Group and Chinese company Tianqi want to spend $136 million muscling into a second lithium province in Western Australia.

The companies, which have acted in partnership on lithium matters since late 2020, agreed to pay $136 million to acquire lithium explorer Essential Metals under a plan to get a foothold in the lithium production zone between Kalgoorlie and Norseman.

Essential Metals has been drilling an early-stage deposit called Pioneer Dome, which is years from development and would barely move the needle for IGO and Tianqi in the context of their 51 per cent stake in Australia’s biggest and best lithium mine at Greenbushes.

Greenbushes is expected to run for at least another 20 years and is about 600 kilometres from Pioneer Dome as the crow flies, suggesting Monday’s acquisition is about IGO and Tianqi’s desire to push into a new lithium province rather than simply extend or expand the Greenbushes hub.

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