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Albemarle cuts cash spend in Australian lithium JV with Mineral Resources

Albemarle Corp. revised a joint venture deal with Mineral Resources Ltd. to acquire a 60% stake in the latter's Wodgina lithium mine in Western Australia for US$820 million in cash, rather than a 50% stake for US$1.15 billion agreed in 2018.

Albemarle will also transfer a 40% stake in the first two 25,000-tonne-per-year lithium hydroxide conversion units under construction near Kemerton in Western Australia. The conversion units will be capable of processing spodumene produced at Wodgina, though the parties will assess the optimal use of the Kemerton facilities.

Mineral Resources said Aug. 1 that Albemarle will fully fund the US$1.2 billion in estimated capital requirements for the Kemerton facility commissioning, which is expected in stages starting in the first half of 2021.

The deal has board approval from both companies and is expected to close in the second half, subject to regulatory approvals.

"This also allows Albemarle to reduce its capital spend for the foreseeable future while preserving greater flexibility and options for any such capacity additions in the future," Albemarle CEO Luke Kissam said. Mineral Resources Managing Director Chris Ellison called the revised deal a "win-win outcome for both parties."