Finland, Sibanye-Stillwater approved €588 million ($616m) investment to advance its Keliber lithium project
Precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW) (NYSE: SBSW) approved on Monday a €588 million ($616m) investment to advance its Keliber lithium project in Finland.
With the operation, Sibanye-Stillwater aims to be the first fully-integrated lithium producer in Europe, targeting first production in 2024.
It will then ramp up to produce around 15,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year, enough for 300,000 electric vehicles (EVs).
The miner owns about 85% of Finnish battery chemical maker Keliber, which in turn owns the namesake lithium project.
“We are delighted to advance and grow our presence in the European battery metals industry through Keliber,” chief executive Neal Froneman said in the statement.
He noted the mine, which will mainly supply the European market, is forecast to have the lowest carbon emission footprints in the industry.
Sibanye plans to underwrite a €104 million ($109m) capital increase by Keliber by the end of January while at least €250 million ($261m) will be be borrowed to fund construction of the project.
Construction of the Päiväneva concentrator and the initial two open pit mines — Syväjärvi and the flagship Rapasaari — will commence once all the environmental permits are received.
The Syväjärvi mine is fully permitted, while the environmental permits at the Rapasaari mine and the Päiväneva concentrator are currently outstanding, Sibanye said.
Eyeing battery metals
The company, one of the world’s largest producers of platinum and palladium, also recently acquired other lithium and nickel assets in the US and Europe. With prices for those and other battery metals ballooning over the past year, mergers and acquisitions in the sector are less appealing at the moment, Froneman has said.
The proposed Keliber lithium mine consists of several advanced stage lithium spodumene deposits with 9.3 million tonnes of ore reserves and it contemplates the construction of a chemical plant near the port of Kokkola.
Once in operations, output is expected to reach 15,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium hydroxide a year during its mine-life.
Europe has a limited number of lithium mining and refinery projects under development, many of which are yet to secure financing or environmental permits, Mining writes.
Resource Mining Corporation acquires highly prospective nickel and lithium tenements in Finland
“We are already in early-stage discussions with potential strategic partners for the development of these projects and I look forward to completing this acquisition and finalising those negotiations which will add significant further value to our shareholders”, said executive chair Asimwe Kabunga.
Resource Mining Corporation Ltd (ASX:RMI) has executed a binding term sheet to acquire Element92 Pte Ltd, the owner of three projects in Finland: the Ruossakero Nickel Project in Northern Finland, the Kola Lithium Project in Central Finland, and the Hirvikallio Lithium Project in Southern Finland.
The company completed extensive due diligence activities on the target projects, including acquiring a large volume of historical data on the projects and the commissioning of an external review by Skapto.
Resource Mining Corporation’s executive chair and consultants then confirmed the review’s findings with a site visit that generated new prospective lithium targets on the tenure.
RMI negotiated all-scrip acquisition terms to the tune of 40 million RMI shares at $0.10 per share. The agreement is now subject to execution of formal documentation.
Search begins for strategic partners
“We are excited to have secured agreement to acquire this portfolio of highly prospective nickel and lithium projects in Finland following an extensive due diligence process”, Resource Mining Corporation executive chair Asimwe Kabunga said.
“We are already in early-stage discussions with potential strategic partners for the development of these projects and I look forward to completing this acquisition and finalising those negotiations which will add significant further value to our shareholders.”
The projects sit near other companies’ lithium projects, and are host to historical mines and known lithium pegmatite occurrences, giving RMI confidence in the tenements’ prospectivity, Proactive Investors reports.
Finland’s government plans to introduce a new tax on minerals extracted by the mining industry
Finland’s government plans to introduce a new tax on minerals extracted by the mining industry, the Nordic country’s finance ministry said on Tuesday.
Some of the European Union’s greatest known reserves of minerals used for batteries and other products are located in Finland where there are around 40 operational mines producing nickel, zinc, lithium, cobalt and gold among others.
Finland has thus far not collected taxes on minerals but the government now proposes introducing a royalty of 0.6% on the taxable value of metallic minerals and of 0.2 euros per extracted tonne for other minerals, the ministry said.
With the new tax, the government calculates it could collect annually some 25 million euros ($24.1 million), with 60% of it to be directed to the municipalities where mines are located and 40% to the central government.
“The aim of the tax is to take into account the nature of mining minerals… as non-renewable natural resources and to direct a reasonable compensation for their use to the society,” the ministry said in a statement.
The new tax, pending approval in Finland’s parliament, is planned to take effect from the beginning of 2024, Euronews writes.
Resource Mining Corporation advances due diligence at Finnish nickel and lithium projects
The company has identified numerous exploration targets from what it recognises as an “extremely prospective tenement package”.
Resource Mining Corporation Ltd is progressing due diligence at Ruossakero Nickel Project in Northern Finland, Kola Lithium Project in Central Finland and Hirvikallio Lithium Project in Southern Finland.
Upon review of exploration data, the company has identified numerous exploration targets from what it recognises as an “extremely prospective tenement package”.
In order to further assess the target projects, RMC proposes to conduct field exploration guided by results of a report from Skapto, specialists in geology and geophysics who conducted the review.
“Extremely prospective regions”
RMC executive chairman Asimwe Kabunga said: “Guided by the Skapto Report into the Target Projects, we are excited to now be preparing the initial field exploration program to further our due diligence activities.
“The findings from the Skapto Report and broader due diligence data review have confirmed the extensive presence of lithium and nickel targets within each tenement and we are excited to continue our due diligence exploration works within these extremely prospective region”
Data review summary
In July 2022, the full exploration data file for all Finland projects was purchased from the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), and the review of this data is now complete.
The data has been analysed by Skapto and from this information, numerous exploration targets have been identified within this extremely prospective tenement package.
At Hirvikallio, high-grade lithium values were confirmed through the review and new targets near the Hirvikallio occurrence have been defined.
The extensive nature of the anomalies within the Hirvikallio and Kola tenements has meant that 18 targets have been defined and located within these lithium-enriched regions.
At Ruossakero, the company has confirmed numerous drilled and sampled nickel-copper-cobalt anomalies within the project and has defined 10 targets.
RMC’s fieldwork has commenced to geologically map, sample and test within all of the targets identified by this review.
What’s more, the vendor agreed to an extension of the option period to exclusively conduct due diligence and finalise negotiations, Pro Active Investors writes.
Can Finland and Sweden help decarbonize EU economies?
Demand for key metals is booming. Geopolitical realities and pandemic-related supply chain issues are increasing the pressure on EU countries to proceed with mining activities of their own to decarbonize their economies.
The European Union wants to decrease its dependency on Russian fossil fuels while accelerating its decarbonization effort. Metals and critical raw materials will play a pivotal role. Minerals, especially lithium, are most needed for clean-energy technologies. Relevant mining activities are concentrated in Asia, Oceania and South America.
Finland and Sweden, the two European countries currently applying for NATO membership, have a long mining tradition and could help solve the EU’s deficit, but question marks remain.
“We are the most important mining countries in the EU. Sweden alone produces over 90% of all the iron ore produced in the EU, Maria Suner, CEO of the Swedish Association of Mines, Mineral and Metal Producers (Svemin), told DW. However, that’s just a little over a quarter of what the bloc needs, meaning that the EU still has to import 70% of its iron ore, she added.
Finland and Sweden also share the mineral-rich Fennoscandian bedrock. According to Suner, the solid rock beneath the Scandinavian and Kola peninsulas has the potential to provide everything that’s on the EU list of critical raw materials.
The European Commission compiled a list of critical raw materials (CRMs) in 2011. Economic value and supply risk are the two criteria used to determine the importance of the materials. The list is getting longer.
Russia and supply security
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the major reason for Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership, and arguably, to step up mining in the medium term.
Svemin’s CEO says the focus on mining increased due to the COVID pandemic and ensuing supply chain disruptions, but more so after Russia invaded Ukraine. It has added to the increase in demand, pushing raw materials prices to a new high.
China is the top producer of graphite and rare earth materials. According to data from the International Energy Agency, it also refines 87% of the rare earths, 65% of cobalt, 58% of lithium, and 35% of nickel. Russia is the second-most-important country in the world for nickel extraction and the third-most-important for cobalt extraction.
“If there’s more support for mining activities in Europe, I don’t see that as a result of Russian hostilities. It’s more a question of whether Europe has woken up to the fact that it lacks metals,” Pekka Suomela, executive director of the Finnish Mining Association (FinnMin), told DW.
Land competition is always an issue in Nordic regions with a focus on forestry. Increased mining is opposed by many environmentalists citing the need to protect biodiversity.
In March, when the Swedish government allowed the exploitation of the Scandinavian country’s largest unexploited iron ore deposit, Swedish climate protection activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement said Sweden was “waging a war on nature.”
Finland, Norway, and Sweden are the least densely populated countries in Europe, which might theoretically be a plus for mining activities. Nonetheless, many scarcely populated areas are protected.
“Almost half of the Swedish territory is reindeer herding area for the Sami people, the only Indigenous people in Europe,” said Suner. “But the area needed for mining is very limited and we know how to minimize the impact.”
In the EU, it can take up to 25 years from the exploration phase to the start of commercial mining. Svemin has proposed 27 reforms, including shortening the permission procedures. Worries about the medium-term environmental impact often clash with long-term decarbonization efforts.
While EU member states are responsible for mining legislation, Brussels deals with aspects related to health, water and land usage.
The current geopolitical situation might increase social acceptance, but caution is needed. According to Suomela, the European Union must be careful not to put too much pressure on any single country to avoid local resistance that could easily shift public opinion.
Another possible future obstacle has to do with energy prices. They remain fairly moderate in northern Sweden and Finland, well below the levels reached in central Europe. But an increase in mining activities requires coherent investments in energy assets.
“The mineral and mining sector is planning for a tenfold increase in electricity use by 2050,” Suner commented. “Additionally, we have other projects for battery production and fossil-free steelmaking. Such projects are not covered by the electricity production we have in Sweden today.”
Estonia, another country bordering Russia, is active in the cleantech supply chain, hosting the only commercial rare earth processing facility in Europe. The facility is owned by Toronto-based rare earth materials technology company Neo Performance Materials. The company launched an initiative in 2020 to expand the supply of rare earth feedstock to their Sillamae processing facility near the Gulf of Finland.
Constantine Karayannopoulos, Neo’s president and CEO, told DW that the war in Ukraine caused refining companies to look more closely at their global supply chains. “Neo is no exception,” he explained, recalling that its supplier in Kola, the Russian peninsula, had been a reliable supplier for over 40 years.
“Geopolitical considerations are always a factor, but our primary driver remains customer demand,” said Karayannopoulos.
Right now, it looks like demand will increase. According to the European Association of Metals (Eurometaux), lithium usage in clean technologies could increase by a staggering 2,109% by 2050. Demand for dysprosium, tellurium and scandium is expected to more than double over the next 30 years, DW writes.
Outokump’s Kemi chrome mine in Finland targeting carbon neutrality by 2025
Outokumpu says it has established a roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality at its Kemi underground chrome mine in Finland by 2025. The roadmap includes several initiatives that will decrease the mine’s emissions towards zero. Carbon neutrality of the Kemi Mine is an important step in achieving Outokumpu’s ambitious science-based climate targets.
“To reach carbon neutrality, we have reviewed all emissions from the Kemi Mine and established a carbon neutrality roadmap to minimise emissions towards zero by 2025. Carbon neutrality of the Kemi Mine supports Outokumpu’s journey towards ambitious climate targets. We are proud that the Kemi Mine will be a forerunner on this journey,” says Martti Sassi, President, BA Ferrochrome, Outokumpu.
The three main factors to reach carbon neutrality at the Kemi Mine are the utilisation of carbon free electricity, using biofuels in transportation and machinery as well as replacing natural gas and propane gas with biogas in heating. Mining machinery electrification will also be extended to reduce the need for fuels.
Outokumpu’s Kemi Mine is the only mine in the EU to produce chrome which is an essential raw material in stainless steel production. Chrome from the Kemi Mine is transported to Outokumpu’s nearby ferrochrome plant in Tornio. The environmental impacts of the underground Kemi Mine are very limited due to the concentration process based on gravity separation without chemicals. Outokumpu announced its updated climate targets in December 2021. The targets have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative and are aligned with keeping global warming below 1.5°C, IM writes.
Mawson Gold has received key planning and regulatory decisions
Mawson Gold has received key planning and regulatory decisions related to its Rajapalot gold-cobalt project in the Lapland region of Finland.
“This is a watershed moment in Rajapalot’s journey from discovery to potential mine development,” said Mawson CEO Ivan Fairhall in a release. “On the ground, Mawson continues the important project definition work to support this transparent process to rezone the project area for mining.”
Certain parts of the Rajapalot property are covered by the European Union’s Natura 2000 network that is in place to conserve nature’s diversity across the continent.
“The overwhelming support for development of mineral deposits in Natura 2000, by the highest decision-making authority in Lapland, makes it crystal clear that Natura 2000 designation is not to be misconstrued as a constraint in the sustainable development of these strategically important assets,” Fairhall added.
Mawson acquired 100% of the Rajapalot project from Areva in 2010 for €1 million along with Areva’s other exploration properties in Finland. Gold and cobalt occur in two different host rocks, either iron-magnesium or potassic-iron types.
Inferred resources as calculated last August are 10.9 million tonnes grading 2.5 g/t gold and 443 ppm cobalt (3 g/t gold-equivalent). In terms of contained metals that is 887,284 oz. of gold and 4,836 tonnes of cobalt (1 million oz. gold-equivalent). The portion recoverable by open pit methods is 2.2 million tonnes grading 1.6 g/t gold and 396 ppm cobalt, and the underground portion is 8.7 million tonnes at 2.5 g/t gold and 443 ppm cobalt.
The most recent resource estimate has a 19% higher gold grade and 47% more contained ounces than the previous estimate released in September 2020.
The Rajapalot project includes eight distinct zones, and the growth potential remains strong, according to Mawson. Drilling has so far covered only 20% of the Rajapalot property, which itself is only 5% of the 100-sq.-km land package owned by Mawson in Finland.
Eurobattery Minerals has the option to acquire 100% of FinnCobalt Oy in a staged acquisition
FinnCobalt Oy has informed Eurobattery Minerals AB that it has joined BATTRACE, a Finnish research project focusing on traceability and sustainable processing of battery metals. Eurobattery Minerals has the option to acquire 100% of FinnCobalt Oy in a staged acquisition.
“Identification of the geographical origin of battery minerals, and the ability to track this along the value chain – from mine to battery cell – will create a competitive edge for future battery manufacturing. Joining this project will help our acquisition target FinnCobalt Oy and the Hautalampi mine project to participate in and monitor developments in this important area,” said Roberto García Martínez, CEO of Eurobattery Minerals.
FinnCobalt’s role in the project will be the delivery of nickel-cobalt concentrate material from the Hautalampi mine development project for further traceability studies. FinnCobalt has obtained this battery metals concentrate from its earlier extensive process development testing work, which was conducted by GTK Mintec and Outotec Oyj metallurgical laboratories, Finland.
The three-year BATTRACE project (sustainable processing and traceability of battery metals, minerals, and materials), run by research partners VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), focuses on the traceability of battery metals, minerals and materials, and the optimisation of production processes. The project involves several industry partners, of which FinnCobalt Oy is one.
The traceability of raw materials is becoming increasingly important as the raw materials produced by the mining industry are required to come from well-known and responsibly operated sources. At present, it is not clear to what extent different analytical methods could be used to verify the origin of the metals used in the production of batteries. Verification of the origin of metals is important in the sustainable production of batteries. Each ore deposit has its own fingerprint based on its mineralogical and geochemical composition. The BATTRACE project identifies this fingerprint and investigates its preservation along the value chain. Improving the sustainability of battery production also requires optimised production processes that recover metals from ores and process them into raw materials for responsible battery producers.
Aurion Resources Ltd. is a Canadian exploration company that has assembled a commanding land position in northern Finland
The company’s CEO Matti Talikka said the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt in northern Finland is “emerging into a major gold camp and Aurion is positioned to be at the core of this exciting development”
The company is focusing its efforts on its wholly-owned Risti and Launi projects, yielding multiple discoveries.
The company’s flagship Risti project covers 16,197-hectares in the prolific Central Lapland Greenstone Belt in northern Finland. In 2017, Aurion shot to prominence on the back of a massive boulder field discovery. The team has since traced the source of one group of the gold-splattered boulders back to an in-situ drill bit discovery at Aamurusko on its Risti property, including 789 grams per tonne (g/t) gold (Au) over 2.9 metres (m).
Shareholders who kept their faith were handsomely rewarded – the average Aurion stock price in 2017 was 45 times greater than in 2015.
In July 2021, Aurion reported promising drill results from its Aamurusko discovery at its Risti property. Gold was intersected in multiple lithological settings, expanding the gold mineralized footprint. The company recorded 29.06 g/t gold over 1.85m, which included 88.90 g/t gold over 0.40m. Significantly, to date 80% of all holes drilled at Aamurusko have intersected gold exceeding 1.0 g/t gold, with 51% of drill holes over 3.0 g/t gold, and 31% over 10.0 g/t gold.
Meanwhile, Aurion’s Launi property consists of two blocks – Launi East and Launi West. The property is just 10 kilometres (km) south of the Risti property. Over 2,300 samples have been collected from boulders and outcrops assaying up to 709 g/t Au with an average grade of 4.20 g/t Au at Launi East.
Aurion has drawn marquee partners and investors like B2Gold, Kinross Gold and Newmont Corporation, the world’s largest gold mining company.
Proactive sat down with Aurion CEO Matti Talikka to learn about the company’s ongoing drill and sampling program at Risti and Launi. A mining industry veteran, Talikka knows northern Finland like the back of his hand.
Proactive: Aurion entered Finland with the thesis that the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt in northern Finland is similar in geologic setting and prospectivity to the famed gold camps of Canada, Australia, Africa, and South America. Do you still have the conviction that Finland is a top jurisdiction for exploration?
Matti Talikka: Yes, absolutely! Finland, and particularly northern Finland offers all the ingredients for successful and sustainable exploration and mining.
The basis is the prospective geology as demonstrated by the existence of major mines such as Agnico Eagle’s Kittila gold mine and over 20 recent gold discoveries including the high-grade Aamurusko discovery by Aurion and the 4-million-ounce Ikkari discovery by Rupert Resources. The increasing frequency and quality – very low finding cost per ounce – of recent discoveries resembles the early stages of development of most of the great gold camps. Camps like Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Red Lake blossomed rapidly after their initial discoveries with multiple new deposits identified often within months of the first exploration success.
As a jurisdiction, Finland is among the best in the world with superb infrastructure, safe operational environment, and transparent permitting processes. We consider that the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt is emerging into a major gold camp and Aurion is positioned to be at the core of this exciting development.
Since Aurion acquires and evaluates mineral properties in Finland does it help that you previously worked for Dragon Mining and have strong exploration and project development experience in the country?
Our team combines the best local knowledge with world-class international knowledge including experience in orogenic gold exploration in Canada and Australia. I have spent more than a decade exploring in northern Finland, and actually was on the other side of the table when Aurion acquired their initial properties in Finland in 2014. I was invited to Aurion’s board in 2015 and commenced full-time as the CEO in November 2020. I believe my local knowledge and experience in geology, relationships with stakeholders and understanding of operational requirements is complementary to the broader experience on the Aurion team.
Please tell us about the multiple gold in-till anomalies that the exploration team recently identified from sampling at the Risti and Launi and what it means for Aurion.
In-till covered terrains, base of till sampling is one of the key exploration methods and has been successfully used in northern Finland in the discovery process of most deposits including Agnico’s Kittila mine, Anglo’s Sakatti and Rupert Resources’ Ikkari.
Aurion’s highly efficient prospecting team initially focused on areas with surface exposure and was very successful in discovering a number of gold mineralizations in outcrops and subcrops, which we are currently following up on with drill testing.
Early this year, we started to expand our regional exploration to till covered areas, which are considered prospective, but have never been explored. During the first half of 2021, we collected approximately 3,500 base of till samples. The results are very encouraging as we identified a large number of gold anomalies in previously untested areas. These results further support our belief that we have a very extensive system, with the potential to find gold in various geological settings including sediment-hosted gold mineralization like Aamurusko and mafic-ultramafic-hosted gold mineralization such as Kutuvuoma, Kaaresselka and Ikkari.
What are the growth catalysts for the company in the near-term?
We have three programs ongoing concurrently. Firstly, we are drilling at Aamurusko with an aim to expand the footprint of the mineralized zones. Secondly, we are drill testing selected regional targets identified via prospecting, geophysics and till sampling. Lastly, we will continue our regional base of till sampling program with an aim to define gold anomalous zones and further expand exploration into previously unexplored areas.
In addition, B2Gold, our joint venture (JV) partner on several properties, including Kutuvuoma and Sinermä, is planning to have an active second half of 2021.
Please elaborate on your joint venture with B2Gold and how you are advancing the Kutuvuoma and Sinermä prospects?
We are pleased to have B2Gold as a JV partner. The current focus of the exploration activities is in the Kutuvuoma-Ikkari corridor. The 4 million ounces (Moz) Ikkari discovery is located just a few hundred meters from the JV boundary, and it seems that the same geologic sequence that hosts the mineralization at Ikkari extends several kilometers into the JV area.
The exploration plans in the near future include a 5,000-meter diamond core drilling program, base of till sampling, trenching and geophysical surveys.
In 2017, Kinross Gold acquired an initial 9.9% position in Aurion, then Newmont inherited a 3.8% interest from Goldcorp. What does it say for Aurion that you are able to attract major gold companies and are you looking for more strategic investors?
I think the fact that majors such as Kinross and Newmont – in addition to our JV with B2Gold – are invested speaks volumes to the potential they see in Finland, and in particular, on our extensive land package. All the majors that invested had the opportunity to visit the properties to see the gold that we had sitting on-surface and all came away with the same comment “We’ve never seen anything like this in our career.” And this is coming from seasoned veterans who have looked at hundreds, if not thousands, of projects globally.
We are very sensitive to maintaining strong relationships with our current corporate investors. However, should there be interest from other parties, we would be open to discussions.
How much cash do you have on hand, and how long will it last?
As of June 30, 2021, we have approximately C$12 million in working capital, which will cover all planned activities through mid-2022.
Compared to high-grade, pre-resource peers, would you say Aurion trades at a discount?
I think a picture is worth a thousand words. As you can see in the graph below, we trade at a deep discount to our peers.
That wasn’t always the case. When we made the boulder discovery in 2017, we were market darlings, and would have traded at a significant premium to our pre-resource peers. However, we had challenges in performing exploration activities including drilling in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as we brought our Canadian staff and drillers home. Had we drilled our discovery hole – hole 42 with 789 g/t Au over 2.90m – in 2020, our valuation would likely look significantly different than it does now.
Therein lies the opportunity for investors. We have now been able to fully resume drilling and other exploration activities.
We believe that we have an opportunity to make multiple new discoveries within our vast land package as well as expand the already identified zones of gold mineralization at Aamurusko, and the market values new significant discoveries as we have seen in the successes of New Found Gold, Great Bear and Rupert Resources.
Finland: Sibanye Stillwater backed Keliber has reported a 32% boost in lithium reserves
The Finland-based company’s ore reserves have risen from 9.37 million tonnes to 12.3Mt at an average grade of 0.94% lithium oxide.
The reserve at its largest deposit, Rapassaari, has grown 55% from a 2019 estimate to 8.21Mt at 0.89% Li2O.
The company is aiming to start producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide in 2024, using its own ore.
CEO Hannu Hautala said the Rapasaari increase would extend Keliber’s planned mining operations by more than two years.
A 2019 study, improved in 2020, had estimated a 13-year operation based on the then-9.3Mt in reserves at several spodumene deposits, producing 15,000t of battery-grade lithium hydroxide annually from a plant to be built 50km from the mining area.
Keliber is aiming to publish an updated definitive feasibility study in early 2022.
“By continuing our exploration activities and systematic drilling programme, we will ensure Keliber’s position as a lithium hydroxide producer well into the future,” Hautala said yesterday.
Keliber had €18.1 million cash on hand at the end of June.
Sibanye-Stillwater announced a €30 million investment in February to take a 30% stake in Keliber, marking the South Africa-based miner’s first foray into the battery minerals sector.
It followed this with a deal in July to acquire a nickel processing plant in France for €65 million and today agreed to invest US$490 million for a 50% stake in ASX-listed ioneer’s flagship Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project in Nevada.