Zeeshan Syed, President of Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. (left), and Mikko Rantaharju, Vice-President of Hydrometallurgy at Metso Corp. (right) sign at Canada House, London, UK a memorandum of understanding to pursue the development of Ontario’s first lithium hydroxide processing facility.

Avalon Advanced Materials Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to create a strategic partnership with Metso to construct and commission a lithium hydroxide (LiOH) production facility at the company’s recently acquired industrial site in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

“Metso’s platform and technological solutions perfectly complement Avalon’s vision to complete an integrated lithium value chain in Ontario, predicated on innovative process solutions,” said Zeeshan Syed, president of Avalon. “We view Metso as an integral part of this rapidly growing sector, and a foundational partner in developing internationally best-in-class processing capabilities that are environmentally sustainable, allowing Avalon to meet the soaring demand for battery-grade lithium.”

The non-binding MoU allows Avalon to license Metso technology and solutions to produce LiOH cathode materials. It also allows Metso to conduct testing and engineering work across Avalon’s portfolio of critical-mineral projects, including Avalon’s flagship deposit at Separation Rapids near Kenora, Ontario. The parties anticipate reaching a definitive agreement on or before Sept. 1, 2023.

“We are also extremely excited to be partnering with the first Ontario conversion facility with Metso’s technology,” said Mikko Rantaharju, head of hydrometallurgy for Metso. “The innovation advantages of the alkaline process allow for elimination of the use of potentially harmful chemicals such as sulfuric acid and comparatively reduces overall solid waste and emissions, making it environmentally friendlier and overall, safer for workers and local surrounding communities.”

The planned Thunder Bay processing facility and an upstream lithium project in the Kenora region will create an estimated 500 jobs. It will also enable broader development of northwestern Ontario’s regional lithium assets by other producers seeking to use the proximity of Avalon’s processing capacity. The facility will also help foster new economic development opportunities for local and regional First Nations communities.