Mining

EcoPro Group increases lithium carbonate offtake commitment from ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge

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By Lorna Nicholas - 
ioneer ASX INR Sibanye-Stillwater Rhyolite Ridge lithium boron project

Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million to acquire 50% of ioneer’s Rhyolite-Ridge lithium-boron project in Nevada.

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Emerging lithium and boron producer ioneer’s (ASX: INR) offtake partner EcoPro Group has exercised its right to increase it lithium carbonate purchase commitment from ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge project in Nevada.

Under an original binding agreement inked in June last year, EcoPro has confirmed it will up its lithium carbonate offtake from ioneer from 2,000 tonnes per annum to 7,000tpa.

ioneer noted the 7,000tpa offtake commitment from EcoPro represents 34% of annual lithium carbonate production from Rhyolite Ridge over the first three years of operation.

Commenting on the increased offtake commitment, ioneer managing director Bernard Rowe said the company was “delighted”.

“As a major cathode supplier for global battery manufacturers, EcoPro is an ideal partner for ioneer.”

“We are encouraged to support the US car manufacturing industry and look forward to continuing to work with EcoPro in these endeavours,” Mr Rowe added.

Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project

Rhyolite Ridge is expected to produce about 22,000tpa of lithium carbonate and 174,000tpa of boric acid.

A definitive feasibility study estimates about US$785 million is required to develop the project, which has a current resource of 146.5Mt lithium and boron and 60Mt of lithium and boron in reserves.

The project has a forecast mine life of 26 years and is anticipated to bring in US$422 million in annual revenue and earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation of US$288 million.

ioneer aims to begin producing from Rhyolite Ridge in the second half of 2024. To assist with capital expenditure requirements, Sibanye-Stillwater is acquiring 50% of the project for US$490 million.

Sibanye-Stillwater has also invested US$70 million in ioneer via a placement.

To further help with funding requirements, ioneer has applied to the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office.

The department has a advanced technology vehicles manufacturing loan program with $17 billion in authority to finance critical minerals projects that meet its criteria.