An emerging lithium-boron supplier, ioneer Ltd., signed a binding offtake supply agreement with Korea’s EcoPro Innovation Co. Ltd., for a three-year term. ioneer will supply EcoPro with lithium carbonate from its Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project in Nevada. The agreement, however, is contingent on ioneer’s final investment decision (FID).
“The agreement with EcoPro marks a significant milestone for ioneer and will be a valuable partnership,” ioneer Managing Director Bernard Rowe siad. “Following a pilot plant tour in mid-2019 and detailed testing of our product samples, EcoPro found that our materials meet its exacting standards and determined that ioneer was the right partner to support EcoPro’s strategy for producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide.”
Under the three-year agreement, ioneer will deliver up to 7,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of lithium carbonate to EcoPro. The 7,000 mt/y comprises an initial and firm 2,000 mt/y (subject to ioneer’s FID) and an additional and optional 5,000 mt/y (subject to mutual agreement, no later than Q1 2022). EcoPro expects to convert ioneer’s lithium carbonate into high-purity lithium hydroxide at its cathode plant to meet its customers’ requirements.
“The U.S. location of Rhyolite Ridge, coupled with the growing importance of the EV sector, positions both companies to play an important role in the electrification of transportation in the USA,” EcoPro Innovation President Anthony Kim said.
ioneer is expected to produce approximately 20,600 mt/y of lithium carbonate, or approximately 22,000 mt/y of lithium hydroxide, along with approximately 174,400 mt of boric acid per year over the 26-year mine life. ioneer expects to commence production in late 2023.
According to ioneer, Rhyolite Ridge is the only known lithium-boron deposit in North America and one of only two known such deposits in the world. A feasibility study completed in April 2020 confirmed it as a possible significant, long-life, low-cost source of lithium and boron.