ioneer Ltd (ASX:INR) is in active negotiations with multiple financial and offtake partners regarding development funding for the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium Boron Project in Nevada, USA.
Operations at the pilot plant have supported numerous strategic partner and finance discussions with around 20 potential strategic partners and financiers having toured the plant.
The tours provide potential partners with an opportunity to extensively interact with key members of ioneer’s technical and commercial teams as well as gain a deeper understanding of ioneer’s commitment to technical excellence.
Product samples from the pilot plant have been sent to more than 30 potential customers around the world for evaluation as part of multiple offtake negotiations, which are ongoing.
“Identified areas of further optimisation”
In the company's Q3 report, managing director Bernard Rowe said: “ioneer made significant process during the period and particularly benefited from the learnings of our operating plant.
“In testing the Rhyolite Ridge process flowsheet at pilot scale, we collected detailed data that has identified areas of further optimisation ahead of detailed design engineering for the definitive feasibility study (DFS).
“Importantly the pilot plant has demonstrated Rhyolite Ridge’s ability to produce high-quality lithium and boron end-products at our project in Nevada.
“Samples have now been sent to many potential customers as part of offtake discussions and given the strong interest and the quality of our products, we are confident they will be well received.”
Low-cost producer of lithium carbonate
During the quarter an initial 30 tonnes of Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron (searlesite) ore was processed through the pilot plant.
Rowe added: “Revenue from boric acid is projected to cover most of our project’s operating costs and help ensure that Rhyolite Ridge becomes a structurally low-cost producer of lithium carbonate.”
The work program over the coming months includes:
- Progressing discussions with potential offtake, financial and strategic partners with the assistance of a global investment bank – the range of partners includes companies involved in the lithium, boron, electricity and acid plant selectors;
- Completing further pilot plant test work by the end of November;
- Making final adjustments to engineering design and delivering a robust DFS in Q1 2020;
- Completing the updated mine plan and ore reserve estimate; and
- Completion of environmental baseline studies and submittal of plan of operation.