Pilbara Minerals has finalised a joint venture (JV) agreement with POSCO to develop a 43,000 tonne per annum (tpa) lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM) conversion facility in South Korea.
The agreement aligns with Pilbara Minerals’ long-term strategy to become a fully integrated lithium raw materials company with a globally diversified customer base.
“We are delighted to have executed the shareholders agreement with POSCO to jointly own and develop a 43,000tpa chemical conversion facility in South Korea, which will form an important part of POSCO’s overall supply chain for the lithium raw materials market in South Korea and abroad,” Pilbara Minerals managing director and chief executive officer Ken Brinsden said.
“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with a company like POSCO and the supply of spodumene concentrate to the JV chemical plant will also have the benefit of further diversifying our global sales arrangements over time.”
The facility will consist of two production trains, each with a 21,500tpa LHM production capacity, using (in part) POSCO’s leading patented purification technology.
After allowing for initial working capital and pre-production financing costs, the total JV funding requirement is expected to be approximately $US700-750 million ($931.5-$998 million), largely consistent with industry peers.
“This joint venture will give Pilbara Minerals significant exposure to one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing markets for lithium chemicals,” Brinsden said.
“Production is expected to commence from the second half of 2023, which should coincide with burgeoning global lithium chemicals demand.”
The conversion facility site is in the Gwangyang province of South Korea. It is currently undertaking early works ahead of construction, which is targeted to commence during the March quarter of 2022.