Lithium developer Pilbara Minerals has signed a binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with low emission technology developer Calix for the development of a demonstration plant for a new, low carbon lithium salt refining process in Western Australia.

The MoU follows the Australian government’s A$20m grant earlier this year to fund the development of the Mid-Stream project at Pilbara Minerals-owned Pilgangoora operation.

As per the agreement, the two companies will move ahead with the front-end engineering design to support a final investment decision, which is scheduled by early 2023.

Furthermore, the two companies will generate market samples from trial work programmes.

The firms will also form a formal joint venture to fund and develop the demonstration scale chemicals facility that would support a potential pathway towards commercial production.

The demonstration facility will be equipped to produce low-carbon, concentrated lithium from fines-flotation spodumene concentrate sourced from Pilgangoora project.

Pilbara Minerals managing director and CEO Ken Brinsden said: “Execution of the binding MoU with Calix further cements the great relationship developing between the two companies.

“Our common goal – to further decarbonise lithium raw material supply chains, is both an important overall objective and a key deliverable for the value in future mid-stream products.”

Located in Western Australia’s resource-rich Pilbara region, the Pilgangoora deposit is said to comprise one of the largest lithium resources in the world.

Calix managing director and CEO Phil Hodgson said: “I look forward to the next phases of the project, namely execution of a formal JV agreement during Q3 2022, and front-end engineering and design leading to a final investment decision in early 2023.”