Albemarle takes stake in Australian lithium production
Speciality chemicals giant Albemarle has concluded an $11.5 billion asset sale and share subscription agreement with Australian mining firm Mineral Resources (MRL). Under this, it will take a 50% stake in MRL’s Wodgina hard rock lithium project in Western Australia and form a 50-50 joint venture with MRL to produce spodumene concentrate and battery grade lithium hydroxide. The deal excludes the mineral rights, iron ore and tantalum.
Following on from completion, which is expected in 2H 2019, and the construction and ramp-up of the spodumene concentration plant, the project is expected to produce approximately 100,000 tonnes/year of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). This will be used as feedstock for a future plant to make battery grade lithium hydroxide using Albemarle technology.
This follows the signing on 21 November of an exclusivity agreement between Albemarle and MRL in relation to the potential joint venture. CEO Luke Kissam described the agreement as “consistent with our corporate strategy of pursuing M&A opportunities that can accelerate and de-risk our organic growth strategy”. Wodgina has an estimated 30 years+ of mine life and is said to be a world-class hard rock lithium deposit.