Koch Industries subsidiary Koch Minerals and Trading (KM&T) has reached an agreement to invest $252m in Compass Minerals stock to help advance the latter’s lithium development project in Utah, US.

In exchange, Compass would sell 6.8 million shares, at $36.87 apiece, to Koch Minerals and Trading. This equates to around 17% in Compass.

Compass will use the proceeds for phase one development of its Great Salt Lake asset, which is estimated to hold a resource of 2.4 million metric tonnes (Mmt) lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).

The firm also plans to use the capital gained from the equity investment to reduce its debt.

Compass president and CEO Kevin Crutchfield said: “Securing funding to aggressively pursue phase one of our lithium growth opportunity has been an important focus for our management team.

“This strategic investment will help drive our lithium project forward, strengthen our balance sheet and enhance execution capabilities across our entire platform.”

Compass expects the project’s annual commercial production capacity to be nearly 35,000 metric tonnes (mt) of LCE.

Koch Minerals and Trading vice-president Jon Chisholm said: “KM&T will also be working closely with Compass Minerals and other Koch companies to unlock a significant lithium resource at Compass Minerals’ Great Salt Lake facility and become one of the first major US-based lithium producers.”

Separately, Compass chose EnergySource Minerals’ Integrated Lithium Absorption Desorption (iLiAD) lithium brine technology platform for the first phase of its lithium project.

Compass aims to produce cost-competitive, battery-grade lithium by 2025.

The firm plans to use EnergySource’s technology alongside existing evaporation ponds to remove the battery metal from Great Salt Lake.