Iondrive cements $7 million KoBold earn-in

Iondrive (ASX:ION) (formerly Southern Gold) will begin exploration planning this month across its suite of South Korean lithium projects after executing a $7 million earn-in and joint venture (JV) agreement with a subsidiary of private explorer KoBold Metals. 

Iondrive says stream sediment sampling, rock-chip sampling, and geological mapping will be undertaken across the Samguen, Seobyeok, Danyang, Seosan, and Cheonpyeong lithium projects.

Under the terms of the agreement with KoBold, the latter can earn a 75% interest in the aforementioned greenfields projects through a 2-stage earn-in of $7 million over 5 years. 

KoBold must spend a minimum of $500,000 in the first 18 months before being able to withdraw from the agreement. 

Stage one of the earn-in includes KoBold sole funding $2 million on exploration and evaluation of the South Korean projects by November 2026 for an initial 51% interest. 

Meanwhile, stage two grants KoBold the option to sole fund the remaining $5 million by November 2028 for the total 75% interest. 

Iondrive can retain the outstanding 25% interest through proportionate funding, however, if its interest falls below 10% it will be replaced with a 1% net smelter royalty, subject to a US$9.54 million cap.  

Iondrive’s wholly owned subsidiary Korea Metals Resources will be engaged as field operator by KoBold during the earn-in period for a minimum of 18 months. 

“This new partnership holds great promise for harnessing South Korea’s lithium resources and is an important pathway forward for our stated strategy of focusing on minerals critical to the clean energy transition, together with the commercialisation of ION’s next-generation battery technologies

Iondrive Managing Director Robert Smillie says the JV underscores South Korea’s untapped lithium potential. 

“This new partnership holds great promise for harnessing South Korea’s lithium resources and is an important pathway forward for our stated strategy of focusing on minerals critical to the clean energy transition, together with the commercialisation of ION’s next-generation battery technologies.” 

KoBold Metals Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kurt House adds the company’s technologies will be applied to increase the chances of making a  ‘significant’ discovery across this tenure as it works to develop a secure supply chain of critical minerals. 

Iondrive is a mineral explorer and battery technology commercialisation group with a wholly owned ‘substantial’ portfolio of rare earth element (REE), lithium, and precious metals exploration projects in South Korea. 

KoBold Metals is focused on mineral exploration across 60 active projects spanning 3 continents and is backed by technology investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

As of 30 September 2023, Iondrive had $2.536 million cash and cash equivalents at hand, according to its latest quarterly report.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

Images: Iondrive
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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.