Processing Plant At Lithium Mine In Western Australia

Pilbara Minerals and Calix have agreed to key commercial terms for a joint venture to develop a demonstration plant, following the award of a $20 million grant from the Federal Government.

The grant was awarded under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) Manufacturing Translation Stream.

Pilbara Minerals and Calix have signed an updated binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the potential future commercialisation of the ‘mid-stream’ lithium chemicals opportunity at Pilgangoora.

The MoU contemplates the joint venture is for the potential development of a demonstration plant at the Pilgangoora Project with the aim of producing lithium salts for global distribution via an innovative midstream ‘value-added’ refining process utilising Calix’s patented calcination technology, as well as for the potential future commercialisation of the process.

Upon formation of the joint venture, participating interests will be 55 per cent for Pilbara Minerals and 45 per cent for Calix, with each party funding their share of operating and capital costs and licensing their technology into the joint venture. 

Calix will have a ten per cent in-kind contribution recognised on budgeted estimated construction costs of the demonstration plant in return for Calix providing an exclusive, worldwide, royalty free licence for its innovative calciner technology to the joint venture for lithium processing applications. 

Pilbara Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO, Ken Brinsden, said execution of the binding MoU with Calix further cements the great relationship developing between the two companies. 

“Our common goal – to further decarbonise lithium raw material supply chains, is both an important overall objective and a key deliverable for the value in future mid-stream products,” Mr Brinsden said.

Calix Managing Director and CEO, Phil Hodgson, said, “Our work with Pilbara Minerals continues on great footing with key terms now agreed on the joint venture to develop, demonstrate, and ultimately commercialise, a new, low carbon lithium salt production process. 

“I look forward to the next phases of the project, namely execution of a formal joint venture agreement during Q3 2022, and front-end engineering and design leading to a final investment decision in early 2023.”

The amendments to the MoU record the Parties’ binding agreement for the following: 

  • The progression of Front End Engineering Design (FEED Studies) beyond the completed Scoping Study, supporting a final investment decision for the demonstration plant, which is targeted for early 2023
  • The generation of market samples from a pilot test work programme (Pilot Testwork Programme) for the execution of a market engagement program to help inform the marketability and selling price outcomes of the targeted ‘value added’ lithium salt product to be produced
  • For the Parties to negotiate in good faith on an exclusive and binding basis a formal Joint Venture Agreement for the funding and development of the demonstration plant and a potential future commercialisation pathway on terms materially consistent with the commercial terms agreed in the MoU and otherwise reasonable and customary for joint ventures of this kind 

The joint venture will be established upon the parties finalising and entering into a Formal Joint Venture Agreement which is expected to occur in Q3 2022. 

Next steps for the joint venture include: 

  • Market Samples – a continuous Pilot Testwork Programme to produce lithium phosphate samples for a detailed market engagement program will be undertaken to help inform the project of the likely marketability and selling price outcomes of the lithium phosphate salt product being produced
  • FEED Studies – progression of FEED Studies will be carried out to support a final investment decision to move forward with developing the demonstration plant and following it successful validation for the commercialisation of the technology across industry globally
  • MMI grant execution – the Parties will liaise with the Federal Government to finalise the execution of the MMI grant funding

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