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.