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Voyageur, Innovation Metals sign barite production JV

Voyageur Minerals Ltd. said March 20 that it inked a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with Innovation Metals Corp. to access the latter's proprietary processing technology for the production of high-purity barium sulfate, or barite.

Innovation Metals is a private Ontario-based firm that develops cost-effective separation and purification processes for the critical-materials industry.

The technology will allow Voyageur to produce consistent high-grade barite suitable for multiple industrial grades, including the pharmaceutical and industrial markets.

In February, the U.S. Department of the Interior published a draft list of critical minerals in the Federal Register, which identified barite as one of the minerals.

The MOU calls for the formation of a joint venture, with Voyageur holding a 75% stake and Innovation Metals owning the remaining 25%. After achieving mutually agreed minimum production rates, Voyageur will have the right to buy out its partner's interest.

If Voyageur acquires the 25% interest, Innovation Metals will retain a 1% net profit royalty. Voyageur will have the right to purchase the royalty for C$1 million for up to five years after commercial-scale production begins.

The company will build a commercial-scale demonstration plant capable of producing 2,000 tonnes per annum of high-purity barite, on completion of pilot-scale testing. After the demonstration plant is completed and tested, Voyageur plans to increase output to between 6,000 and 10,000 t/a.

Voyageur intends to use cash flow from operations to fund the continued exploration of its barite deposits in British Columbia and to develop its two lithium projects in Utah.

The company is in discussions with several pharmaceutical and high-end barite industry players and will seek to secure potential off-take deals.