ioneer announces lithium offtake agreement with Korea’s EcoPro Innovation

ioneer Ltd., Sydney, Australia, (ASX: INR), an emerging lithium–boron supplier, today announced that it has signed a binding offtake supply agreement with EcoPro Innovation Co Ltd., Chungcheongbuk-do, Korea, for a three-year term, in which ioneer will supply EcoPro with lithium carbonate from its Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project (“Rhyolite Ridge”) in Nevada, United States. The condition precedent of the Agreement is ioneer’s final investment decision (FID).

Under the Agreement, ioneer will deliver up to 7,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of lithium carbonate to EcoPro over a three-year term. The 7,000 tpa comprises an initial and firm 2,000 tpa (subject to ioneer’s FID) and an additional and optional 5,000 tpa (subject to mutual agreement, no later than Q1 2022). EcoPro expects to convert ioneer’s lithium carbonate into high purity lithium hydroxide at its cathode plant to meet its customers’ requirements.

ioneer is expected to produce an annual average of approximately 20,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate, or approximately 22,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide, along with approximately 174,400 tonnes of boric acid per year over the 26-year mine life1. The dual production of lithium and boric acid allows ioneer to not only produce lithium in the US, but to do so at the very bottom of the global cost curve. ioneer anticipates commencing production in late 2023.

This Agreement follows the earlier signing of an initial offtake agreement and two sales and distribution agreements2 for boric acid production, representing 100% of offtake in year one and more than 85% of boric acid production in years two and three.

Key terms of the Agreement with EcoPro include:

  • Product: Lithium carbonate
  • Contract Duration: 3 Years
  • Volume: Up to 7,000 tonnes per annum with a minimum of 2,000 tonnes per annum (subject to ioneer’s FID), additional volume (5,000 tonnes per annum) by mutual agreement no later than Q1 2022 (or such later date mutually agreed by the Parties).
  • Price Term: CIF Busan, Korea.
  • Price: Adjusted quarterly based on agreed price formula.
  • Currency: USD per metric ton
  • Condition Precedent: ioneer’s Final Investment Decision

ioneer Managing Director, Bernard Rowe, said: “The Agreement with EcoPro marks a significant milestone for ioneer and will be a valuable partnership. It is our first lithium offtake agreement and partnering with a recognised world leader in cathode materials manufacturing is a testament to the quality of our lithium carbonate. Following a pilot plant tour in mid-2019 and detailed testing of our product samples, we are pleased that EcoPro found that our materials meet its exacting standards and determined that ioneer was the right partner to support EcoPro’s strategy for producing battery grade lithium hydroxide.

“Equally important is ioneer and EcoPro’s shared focus on sustainability. EcoPro is committed to the production of technologies that reduce emissions, and ioneer is empowering EcoPro through the production of these critical minerals with a significantly lower carbon footprint.”

EcoPro Innovation President Anthony Kim, said: “As a trusted and respected company that seeks to improve the quality of life for mankind, we are pleased to partner with ioneer who share a similar vision. ioneer’s lithium carbonate is well suited for conversion to high purity lithium hydroxide with a minimal environmental footprint. The US location of Rhyolite Ridge, coupled with the growing importance of the EV sector, positions both companies to play an important role in the electrification of transportation in the USA.”

About ioneer

ioneer Ltd is the 100% owner of the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA, the only known lithium-boron deposit in North America and one of only two known such deposits in the world. The Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS)3 completed in April 2020 confirmed Rhyolite Ridge as a world-class Lithium and Boron Project that is expected to become a globally significant, long-life, low-cost source of lithium and boron vital to a sustainable future.

About EcoPro Innovation

EcoPro Innovation Co Ltd is a subsidiary of The EcoPro Co., Ltd Group of Companies which include EcoPro BM, EcoPro Gem and EcoPro Innovation. EcoPro Innovation specializes in lithium-ion batteries and filter frames. EcoPro Innovation has secured a value chain for lithium cells by developing, manufacturing and processing technologies for lithium compounds, which is a core material of lithium cells.

1 Refer ASX release titled ‘ioneer Delivers Definitive Feasibility Study that Confirms Rhyolite Ridge as a World-Class Lithium and Boron Project’ announced 30 April 2020.

2 Refer to ASX announcement entitled ‘ioneer Substantially Completes Asian Boric Acid Distribution and Sales Network’ released 21 May 2020.

3 Refer ASX release titled ‘ioneer Delivers Definitive Feasibility Study that Confirms Rhyolite Ridge as a World-Class Lithium and Boron Project’ announced 30 April 2020.

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