Mineral Resources (MinRes) and Albemarle Corporation have announced the amended terms of transactions for their MARBL Joint Venture (JV), originally signed in February 2023.

The amended terms are intended to simplify commercial agreements and arrangements between the two companies.

Pending regulatory approvals, the amended terms are intended to provide greater strategic opportunities for the companies based on their global operations and the evolving lithium market, ensuring that both companies have the required flexibility and focus to provide value for shareholders. 

Key aspects of the original agreement remain in effect, including the 1 April 1 2022, economic effective date (EED) and joint ownership of the Wodgina mine, with Albemarle and MinRes to each own a 50 per cent share upon closing. MinRes will remain the mine operator.

Under the agreed amended terms, Albemarle will take full ownership of the Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant that MinRes currently operates. 

Under the updated agreements, MinRes will no longer invest in any Chinese conversion assets with Albemarle and will not make any payments to Albemarle for joint downstream investments. 

Within two months of the completion date, MinRes will transition to market its own share of spodumene concentrate from Wodgina and lithium battery chemicals. The company has also established an office and warehouse in Ningbo, China. 

MinRes will enter into a transitional tolling arrangement with Albemarle to convert Wodgina spodumene until 30 June 2024, allowing MinRes to continue building its team in China.

Completion of the MARBL JV arrangements is expected in the December quarter and is dependent on approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Albemarle CEO, Kent Masters, said the agreement enables each company to better align its planned capital investments and assets.

“Albemarle continues to rapidly expand its energy storage business. Construction of the Meishan lithium hydroxide processing plant is progressing well, with completion now expected in early 2024,” Mr Masters said.  

“We also recently announced an expansion at the Kemerton lithium hydroxide processing facility, with construction about to begin for our 100 per cent-owned processing trains three and four.”

MinRes Chief Executive Lithium, Josh Thurlow, said the changes are a win for both parties.

“MinRes and Albemarle remain great joint venture partners in the world-class Wodgina lithium mine, while maximising flexibility to focus on the strengths of our businesses,” Mr Thurlow said.

“It’s a testament to our working relationship that we were able to negotiate mutually beneficial outcomes that deliver value for both sets of investors.”

“For MinRes, the changes unlock value from our non-integrated Kemerton processing facility, which will provide flexibility to continue expanding our hard rock assets and develop our own integrated lithium conversion assets in Australia and abroad.”

Upon closing, Albemarle will pay MinRes an estimated US$380-400 million, including the net consideration for MinRes’s share of Kemerton and completion adjustments at Wodgina and Kemerton. Actual settlement adjustments will depend on the date of close.

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