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Mineral Resources, Neometals plan downstream lithium processing

Mineral Resources Ltd. and Neometals Ltd. agreed to use lithium concentrate from their Mount Marion joint venture in Western Australia to produce a battery-quality, lithium hydroxide product suitable for direct sales to the lithium-ion battery industry, according to a joint Sept. 30 news release.

The companies entered a memorandum of understanding to jointly evaluate the technical and commercial feasibility of a plant with a nameplate capacity of between 20,000 tonnes per year and 25,000 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate equivalent production, using the sulfate/caustic soda process.

Initial work streams under the MOU will start immediately, while a final investment decision is expected by the third quarter of 2017.

"With the transition of Mount Marion to production, we are now confident that a downstream lithium processing plant located nearby to Mount Marion will deliver superior economic outcomes for the [joint venture] partners," Neometals' Managing Director Chris Reed said in the statement.

Mineral Resources and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd. each own a 43.1% stake in Mount Marion, while Neometals has a 13.8% interest.

In mid-August, Mineral Resources was considering selling its stake in the joint venture as part of a strategy to step out from investments once they start producing.