Mineral Resources has set the next stage of the Wodgina lithium project in motion with its acceptance of a joint venture with United States company Albemarle Corp.
MinRes will partner with the American chemicals giant at the Pilbara, Western Australia-based site by selling 50 per cent of the site to Albemarle for $US1.15 billion ($1.6 billion).
Albemarle secured an exclusivity agreement with MinRes last month for rights to half of the $US2.3 billion Pilbara project.
The company will secure a 50 per cent interest in all mineral rights at Wodgina with the exception of tantalum (due to an existing agreement with Global Advanced Metals) and iron ore.
MinRes will also retain the rights to certain project infrastructure at the project (which has a capacity of 750,000 tonnes of lithium spodumene a year), such as mobile mining equipment and the project’s spodumene concentrate plant.
Now that the JV is agreed, the companies’ attention will turn to the development of a new lithium hydroxide plant at the site in two stages, which is expected to produce up to 50,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide per year at its peak.
Albemarle and MinRes will both handle design, construction and funding duties on the plant, while Albemarle will manage the sales and marketing of both Wodgina’s existing lithium spodumene concentrate and eventual lithium hydroxide product.
MinRes subsidiaries Crushing Services International (CSI) and Process Minerals International (PMI) will provide crushing services and camp and accomodation services, respectively. PMI will also provide haulage and port services.
This proposed operation will produce up to 50,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide a year at its peak, with Albemarle handling the sales and marketing of both the spodumene concentrate and lithium hydroxide product.
“I am confident that with Mineral Resources and Albemarle working together at Wodgina, we will produce and supply high quality, competitively prices lithium products into the market to meet increasing global requirements for these important energy storage products,” MinRes managing director Chris Ellison said.