Minera Salar Blanco (MSB) has formed an alliance with Japan’s Mitsui for the development of the Maricunga lithium project in Chile.

According to the non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU), MSB and Mitsui intend to set up an alliance that includes potential offtake and funding rights for the first stage of the Maricunga lithium project.

The strategic alliance may also include potential participation, offtake and funding rights for future expansion of the project and collaboration for new lithium projects in Chile.

However, the new lithium related developments will be based on new technology related to direct lithium extraction, which currently being studied and tested.

Lithium Power International CEO Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro said: “The MoU is comprehensive, and it sets a framework for stage one of the project development to proceed with the backing of a world-renowned partner.

“We look forward to finalising the definitive agreements with Mitsui and working with them on mutually beneficial lithium projects and positive outcomes for the Chilean lithium industry.”

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Lithium Power said that Mitsui will have the right to purchase up to 15,000tpa of production from the first phase of the Maricunga project for ten years.

The period may extend for two additional years five-year periods.

Lithium Power said the MSB and Mitsui would finalise the terms and details of the definitive agreements upon completion of all necessary due diligence and transaction structuring.

The Maricunga project is managed by MSB, which is owned by Lithium Power (51%), Borda Group (31%) and Bearing Lithium (18%).

The project is expected to have a nameplate capacity of 15,000 annual tonnes of high-purity lithium carbonate in the first stage.