Alliance Mineral Assets has formed a joint venture (JV) with China-based Jiangxi Special Electric Motor that will enable it to sell and produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
Jiangte, which holds a 6.4 per cent interest in Alliance, owns and operates a lithium hydroxide and carbonate converter in Jiangxi Province. It does not require any capital cost funding from Alliance.
Alliance will continue to operate its Bald Hill lithium-tantalum mine in Western Australia and supply spodumene to the JV. It will be processed at the converter facility to produce lithium hydroxide that is then sold to third parties.
The WA-based miner can partake in the downstream lithium products market within the next six to 12 months without incurring the costs and being exposed to risks associated with the construction of a conversion facility.
Concentrate requirements of the JV for 2019 and 2020 are expected to represent only 20 per cent of Bald Hill’s production, according to Alliance.
The Bald Hill project has a mineral resource of 26.5 million tonnes at 0.96 per cent lithium and 149 parts per million of tantalum at a 0.5 per cent cut off, which translates to around 225,200 tonnes of lithium and 8.6 million pounds of tantalum.
“The hydroxide JV provides for a rapid, low-risk, low-cost entry into downstream production and sales of battery-grade lithium products,” Alliance managing director Mark Calderwood said.
“We see market demand for lithium hydroxide increasing. Aside from traditional industrial uses, a number of rechargeable battery manufacturers are now using lithium hydroxide in their products, and this joint venture will enable Alliance to participate in the market.”
According to Jiangte chairman Jun Zhu, the cooperation between “one of Australia’s premium spodumene producers” and a “large Chinese lithium salts producer” will potentially enhance the market influence and profitability of both parties.
The partners will work towards completion of the JV documentation and continue talks with potential long-term downstream customers over the next two months.