MGX Minerals has signed a letter of intent (LoI) with Orion Laboratories and Light Metals International (LMI) to jointly develop and commercialise a new extraction process for lithium production.

The new process is expected to focus on extracting hard-rock lithium from spodumene concentrate.

It will be developed under the direction of Orion president and CEO James Blencoe, who has experience in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of specialised equipment for advanced chemical production.

The thermochemical technology has been developed by LMI and can manufacture lithium carbonate and / or lithium hydroxide from various spodumene concentrates.

"The LoI requires MGX to make an initial payment of $250,000 and issue 100,000 common shares in order to acquire an initial 50% interest in the technology."

The system aims to reduce the overall cost of hard-rock lithium production.

MGX and its joint venture (JV) partner Power Metals have agreed to provide Blencoe with a 10kg sample of spodumene-rich rock originating from the Case Lake lithium project in Ontario, which is slated to be used during initial bench-scale laboratory testing.

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MGX Minerals president and CEO Jared Lazerson said: “The success of our Case Lake, Ontario JV has led us to review new metallurgical methods that have the potential to significantly reduce the costs and equipment required for extraction of the principle spodumene elements lithium, aluminum, and silicon.”

“We believe Dr. Blencoe has a firm understanding of the thermochemical requirements to achieve such a goal.”

The LoI requires MGX to make an initial payment of $250,000 and issue 100,000 common shares in order to acquire an initial 50% interest in the technology and associated intellectual property.

The funding will be used to complete the technology’s bench-scale laboratory testing programme.

MGX’s planned issuance of an additional 250,000 common shares is dependent on the successful completion of the laboratory testing.

The company is anticipated to provide financing to fund development of a modular manufacturing plant at its discretion.

MGX will have the option to form a JV with LMI by issuing an additional 500,000 shares, subject to the successful development and testing of the plant.

MGX is slated to hold a 70% interest in the JV, while the remaining 30% will be owned by LMI.

The deal also gives MGX the option to acquire a 100% interest in the JV for a consideration of C$10m ($7.8m).