ioneer Ltd (ASX:INR) has entered the final stage of a definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in the US with is on track to complete the work according to plan.
Despite unprecedented market volatility and COVID-19, the company confirms that there have been no impacts on its business operations or ability to meet key project milestones.
The DFS is entering its final stage of completion as INR finalises a Plan of Operations for the development of the project and intends to file it shortly with the US Department of the Interior - Bureau of Land Management.
This filing will trigger the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is expected to follow an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pathway.
Tiehm buckwheat protection plan
ioneer has a longstanding Tiehm’s buckwheat management and protection effort in place and is funding continuing research into Tiehm’s buckwheat at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR).
UNR scientists have reported an unexpectedly high and encouraging success rate, growing hundreds of seedlings in a greenhouse at the university from Tiehm’s buckwheat seeds collected by the company over the past summer.
This research aims to demonstrate the feasibility of propagating Tiehm’s buckwheat in the wild as UNR researchers have done with similar types of buckwheat elsewhere in Nevada.
“No impacts” on buckwheat project
Managing director Bernard Rowe said: “ioneer has always placed the protection of Tiehm’s buckwheat as one of its important priorities, and the company's protection plan is expected to ensure the protection and, in fact, expansion of the buckwheat population.
“Unsubstantiated speculation that the buckwheat has ‘stopped ioneer in its tracks’ is completely incorrect.
“ioneer willingly agreed to minor additional protection measures, similar to those already in place, to avoid impact on Tiehm’s buckwheat during exploration and reclamation.
“Beyond these minor additional measures, there have been no impacts on the progress of the project and ioneer’s goal to develop lithium and boron from the site.”
Public hearings as part of review process
Rowe continued: “We are pleased that the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has recently confirmed dates for two public hearings that are part of the review process it announced last November.
“We look forward to participating in the April hearings to help all constituents better understand the project and ioneer’s comprehensive Tiehm’s buckwheat protection plan.
“We remain very focused on environmental stewardship core to our purpose as a company protecting this species and reporting our DFS in the coming weeks.”