MinRes restructures Albemarle JV amid hive of lithium deal activity

Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) last week closed the restructuring of its unincorporated MARBL joint venture with US-base Albemarle (NYSE:ALB).

As per its 20 July 2023 announcement, MinRes’s share of the Wodgina lithium mine will now increase from 40% to 50% and the company will also remain the operator of the mine.

Following approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) which had a protracted tilt at Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) that was recently scrapped, will now take full ownership of the Kemerton Lithium Hydroxide Plant.

Albemarle will pay MinRes an estimated US$380 million to US$400 million for the net consideration for MinRes’s share of Kemerton and completion adjustments at Wodgina and Kemerton.

Full payment is expected to be received by December 2023. With the completion of the transaction, MinRes will from here on in report its 50% ownership interest in Wodgina and market its share of Wodgina spodumene concentrate and lithium battery chemicals.

The restructuring of the MARBL joint venture comes amid a hive of M&A activity in the global lithium space.

Pan Asia Metals (ASX:PAM) recently entered Chile via the acquisition of the Tama-Atacama Lithium Project.

Pan Asia is today (23 October 2023) in a trading halt as it seeks to raise equity.

Last week, Chilean state-owned Codelco offered to buy Australian producer Lithium Power International’s (ASX:LPI) for A$385 million, which would add the Maricunga Lithium Project to its portfolio.

The same week, Albemarle dropped its $6.6 billion bid for Liontown following a long pursuit and after the due diligence period was extended.

In June, Lithium Power sold its Western Australian assets to Albemarle to focus on the development of the Maricunga project, which sits within the lithium triangle in northern Chile.

Solis Minerals (ASX:SLM) recently relinquished its pursuit of the Jaguar Project in Brazil and has also struck an option agreement to purchase the Mina Vermelha Project, a lithium project which sits within the Borborema district of Rio Grande do Norte along the same mineralised regional trend as the Estrela Project.  

Meanwhile, Mining.com.au reported Ragnar Metals (ASX:RAG) in mid-October entered into a conditional binding agreement to acquire exploration licences in Sweden from Pallas Metals, a subsidiary of Canadian exploration company Pallas Minerals. Under the agreement, Ragnar’s wholly owned subsidiary, Ragnar Exploration, will acquire the Orrvik Lithium Project in Sweden.

And on 5 October, as reported by this news service, Horizon Minerals (ASX:HRZ) signed a binding share sale agreement with private company Charter Minerals to take full control of 2 greenfield lithium prospects in Western Australia. Together, the prospects cover an area of 33km-square near the town of Bridgetown, and they lie less than 20km from the ‘world-class’ Greenbushes Lithium Mine. 

While this is not a full and extensive list of recent deals in the global lithium space, it illustrates how not only the majors but junior explorers are increasingly getting in on the action as demand soars.

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: Pan Asia Metals & Mineral Resources
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.