Lithium miner Galaxy Resources (ASX: GXY) has signed up long-term Chinese customer Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group to a new three-year supply deal for its Mt Cattlin spodumene concentrate.

The news buoyed Galaxy shares which rose 7 per cent in early ASX trade to 88.5 cents.

The Chinese explosives manufacturer has booked 120,000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) per year of spodumene  for delivery starting in January 2023 out to December 2025.

The Chinese company has also pledged to buy an extra 30,000 dmt of Mt Cattlin spodumene concentrate in the second half of 2020 on a take-or-pay basis.

Pricing for spodumene shipments sold up to the end of 2022 will be on a spot cost, insurance and freight (CIF) basis, and a pricing formula is set to be agreed for the 2023-2025 shipments.

Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group has opened a new lithium hydroxide production plant in Ya’an in southwest China’s Sichuan province with a 20,000 dmt/year capacity.

Galaxy has existing offtake agreements with Meiwa Corporation for 55,000 dmt/year out to December 2022, and with Yi Chun Yin Li New Energy for 6,000 dmt/year in 2021-2022.

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Rare earths breakthrough

Meanwhile, Alkane Resources’ (ASX: ALK) rare earths subsidiary, Australian Strategic Materials (ASM), has completed some important research work with its Korean joint venture partner ZironTech.

ZironTech has produced 1kg of neodymium metal alloy from its patented reduction process in its Korean laboratory.The feedstock for the metallisation process comes from ASM’s Dubbo project in New South Wales.

The ASM-ZironTech joint venture is targeting 45 per cent less energy use in its rare earth metallisation process compared with current industrial processes.

“This is a major milestone in ASM’s integrated strategy that includes clean metal production for all products from the development of the Dubbo project in central west New South Wales,” ASM managing director, David Woodall said.

The metallisation process is being developed to produce “globally significant quantities” of zirconium and rare earth materials which are in high demand for clean energy and transportation technologies.

“This integration of metal production into ASM’s business is consistent with the Australian government’s objective of adding value within Australia, while ensuring supply security and stability of these critical materials to global and domestic Australian manufacturing sectors,” Woodall said.

The Australian-Korean joint venture is planning to build an electro-refining pilot plant to produce high purity metal including, neodymium, praseodymium and other rare earths in metallic form.

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Successful rare earths drilling for Pensana

Fellow rare earths explorer Pensana Rare Earths (ASX: PM8) saw its shares initially rise 6 per cent Monday morning after announcing successful drilling results for its Longonjo project in Angola.

These high-grade intersections from surface at its Longonjo project will support a bankable feasibility study for a 15 to 20-year mine.

They included confirmed 6 per cent rare earth oxide present in an area of surface weathered zone mineralisation to the north and east of the project.

An updated mineral resource estimate for the Longonjo project is expected in the July-September quarter once remaining assay results come through.

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PepinNini goes high grade in the ‘Lithium Triangle’

A review of beneficiation studies for its Salta Lithium Brine project in Argentina has delivered “exceptionally high-grade lithium concentrate” for PepinNini Lithium (ASX: PNN).

Test work results show the concentrate contains 3.05 per cent or 30,500 parts per million of lithium and a very low magnesium contaminate ratio of 1.6:1 magnesium: lithium.

The results mean PepinNini can move ahead with expansion plans for the Salta project and deliver a high-grade lithium brine concentrate from a large-scale project.

The project is within the fabled South American lithium triangle in north-west Argentina which holds 65 per cent of the world’s lithium.

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