MOU with Caterpillar Lifts ioneer (ASX:INR) Share Price

Summary

  • ioneer has signed an MOU with mining equipment giant Caterpillar for the use of Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) at its Nevada project.
  • Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project is one of its kind in North America.
  • Production is expected to start in 2023.

US-focused lithium-boron supplier ioneer Ltd (ASX:INR) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Caterpillar Inc. for the use of an autonomous haulage system (AHS) at its flagship Rhyolite Ridge Project, Nevada.

ioneer engaged Caterpillar and Cashman Equipment Company, Caterpillar’s dealer for Nevada region since 1931, to conduct a joint automation study on the project. The study involved the early introduction of Cat® Command at the project for hauling operations.

Project Expansion Plan (Source: ASX Update, 6 November 2020)

Latest Update: Ioneer Ltd (ASX:INR) Coverts Battery Grade Lithium Hydroxide from Carbonate at Rhyolite Ridge

ioneer has already completed the feasibility study on the project. The study unveiled that the use of AHS at the project will deliver benefits in more than one way.

The system is expected to increase operating hours, reduce cycle times, deliver improved cycle efficiency, and lower cost on maintenance. As a result, the overall cost structure of the project would change, thus resulting in significant savings in terms of operating expenditure.

Cat autonomous mining trucks have impeccable safety records. Globally, the trucks have hauled more than 2 billion tonnes of material, driving more than 67.6 million kilometres with no lost-time injury.

MOU to Move the Initiative Forward  

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ioneer and Caterpillar have signed the MOU for using Cat® Command for AHS at the project. The MOU is targeted towards formal agreements in the coming months with preliminary, non-binding negotiations currently underway.

Once the agreement is signed, the partners will operate through Cashman Equipment. The fleet of mining trucks will include Cat® MineStar™ equipped with Intermountain Mining Technologies.

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First Greenfield Project in North America to Use AHS

ioneer controls a 100% interest in the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project. It is the first of its kind in North America and only second in the world to have lithium and boron deposits. The project will source low-cost lithium and boron, with the production slated for 2023.

Rhyolite Ridge will be the first greenfield project in the North American region to use AHS. Caterpillar will use the 140-tonne class CAT 785 Next Generation truck for hauling operations at the project.

ioneer has estimated that Caterpillar Inc. may charge up to US$100 million for the duration of five years of the operations (for equipment and services). ioneer may also use Caterpillar Financial Services.

Share Price Movement

The stock of INR traded at A$0.480 on 16 February 2021 (AEDT 1:15 PM), up 3.225% from its last closing price. The Company has a market cap of A$783.94 million.

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