Neometals Ltd and Mineral Resources Limited have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to progress the development of a downstream chemical plant in the Eastern Goldfields of WA.
Key activities under the MOU will include front end engineering and design (FEED), site selection and acquisition, negotiation of reagent supplies (gas, sulphidic acids, caustic soda) and assessment of environmental and regulatory approvals.
Under the terms of the MOU, the partners will use lithium concentrate form their jointly-owned Mt Marion Project to produce a battery-quality, lithium hydroxide product intended for direct sales to the Lithium Ion Battery industry.
Neometals and Mineral Resources own 43.1% and 13.8% respectively of RIM, the owner of the Mt Marion Lithium Project. The two partners also have offtake arrangements with Rim that will allow them to collectively purchase 51% of total spodumene production form Mt Marion from around 2020. The remaining 49% of spodumene production from that time has already been committed for purchase by 43.1%-RIM shareholder Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd, which is obligated to purchase 100% of production from Rim in the interim.
The MOU will see Neometals and Mineral Resources jointly assess the technical and commercial feasibility of the construction and operation of a plant with nameplate capacity of 20,000 – 25,000 tpa of lithium carbonate equivalent production, utilising the conventional sulphate/caustic soda process used by leading Chinese lithium converters, including Ganfeng.
Neometals Managing Director, Chris Reed said initial work streams under the MOU will commence immediately, with a Final Investment Decision expected by the third quarter of 2017.
“With the transition of Mt Marion to production we are now confident that a downstream lithium processing plant located nearby to Mt Marion will deliver superior economic outcomes for the JV partners with the added benefit of bring new employment opportunities to the Goldfields,” Mr Reed concluded.