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Albemarle has agreed to amend the terms of the MARBL lithium joint venture it shares with Mineral Resources (MinRes).

In February, Albemarle signed definitive agreements with MinRes to restructure the MARBL lithium joint venture (JV), which included terms such as:

  • Albemarle increasing its interest in the first two conversion trains of the Kemerton processing plant from 60 per cent to 85 per cent
  • Albemarle operating Kemerton trains one and two
  • MinRes will increase its interest in the Wodgina lithium mine project from 40 per cent to 50 per cent, with MinRes operating it
  • consideration for Albemarle’s increased stake in Kemerton to be offset by consideration for MinRes’ increased stake in Wodgina
  • Albemarle supplying MinRes’ 15 per cent share of spodumene for use by the JV at the Kemerton plant from the Greenbushes mine
  • both companies marketing its own share of lithium products converted from Wodgina spodumene.

The company said the latest amended agreements intend to further simplify the commercial arrangements both parties entered into in February.

Under the new agreements, Albemarle will take 100 per cent ownership of the Kemerton lithium hydroxide processing facility and will retain full ownership of its Qinzhou and Meishan lithium processing facilities in China.

Albemarle chief executive officer Kent Masters said the agreement positions both companies to better align its planned capital investments and assets.

“Albemarle continues to rapidly expand its energy storage business. Construction of the Meishan lithium hydroxide processing plant is progressing well, with completion now expected in early 2024,” Masters said.

“We also recently announced an expansion at the Kemerton lithium hydroxide processing facility, with construction about to begin for our 100 per cent owned processing trains three and four.”

MinRes chief executive of lithium Josh Thurlow said the changes to the JV are beneficial for both parties.

“MinRes and Albemarle remain great joint venture partners in the world-class Wodgina lithium mine, while maximising flexibility to focus on the strengths of our businesses,” Thurlow said.

“It’s a testament to our working relationship that we were able to negotiate mutually beneficial outcomes that deliver value for both sets of investors.

“For MinRes, the changes unlock value from our non-integrated Kemerton processing facility, which will provide flexibility to continue expanding our hard rock assets and develop our own integrated lithium conversion assets in Australia and abroad.”

Both companies anticipate closing the amended arrangements later this year, pending regulatory approval in Australia.