Ioneer (ASX:INR) expand its EcoPro partnershipNovember 1, 2023
Ioneer has expanded its partnership with EcoPro and signed a Research and Development MOA with the Korean 19-billion-plus market capper to research, test, and develop the lithium clays at its Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron project in the US state of Nevada.
It allows Ioneer to accelerate technical activities and the opportunity to commercialise a one million tonne resource of lithium carbonate equivalent.
And EcoPro will fund and build a commercial-scale refining plant to develop lithium clay for a 50-50 split of sales into the US battery chain.
Ioneer Executive Chairman James Calaway said the company was delighted to build on its partnership and looked forward to accelerating development of another layer of mineralisation at Rhyolite Ridge.
“This partnership provides Ioneer additional financial flexibility to focus on delivering its core investment at Rhyolite Ridge as well as develop growth opportunities,” Mr Calaway said.
“The ultimate goal of EcoPro and Ioneer is to increase the supply of refined lithium materials for the U.S. EV supply chain and create hundreds of good-paying jobs in Nevada and beyond.”
EcoPro Innovation President Anthony Kim said that lithium extraction technology is not just a process of selectively extracting lithium, but a complex and difficult technology requiring removing uncertain impurities.
“EcoPro Innovation has an original patent for lithium extraction from waste batteries and launched its business in EcoPro Group,” Mr Kim said.
“EcoPro Innovation is a technology-competitive company with a number of source patents in hydromet processes. We will perform well as soon as possible to gain the upper hand from other competitors.”
Lithium clays are one of three distinct styles of lithium mineralisation found at the Nevada project which holds one of only two of the world’s known lithium-boron deposits.
Given its location and a DFS which confirmed it as a worldclass asset, Rhyolite Ridge has attracted international attention.
Ioneer had already signed deals with EcoPro, multinational miner Sibanye-Stillwater, Toyota, and the Ford Motor Company for interest and offtake agreements and has received a conditional commitment from the US Department of Energy Loan Programs Office for up to $700 million of debt financing.
The project is now in the final stage of the federal permitting process and getting closer towards the expectations that it will become a globally significant long-life and low-cost source into the US supply chain.
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