Ashurst has advised ioneer, the 100% owner of the of the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project (Project) in Nevada, USA, on in its entry into a joint venture with Sibanye-Stillwater to develop the Project.
Under the terms of the joint venture, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US $490 million for a 50% interest in the joint venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer has also agreed to provide Sibanye-Stillwater with an option to participate in 50% of the North Basin of Rhyolite Ridge, which is a separate area to the Project, upon the election of Sibanye-Stillwater to contribute up to an additional US $50 million. The joint venture transaction is subject to various conditions precedent, with completion expected to occur during the second half of 2022.
The announcement of the transaction represents the culmination of an 18 month process conducted by ioneer to engage a strategic partner for the Project.
The joint venture transaction is a transformational strategic investment in the Project, underpinning the quality of the Project and ioneer’s future as a major lithium and boron producer in the US. The funds from the joint venture transaction and placement will be used to advance the Project to commencement of construction and fund all remaining equity capital regarding the development of the Project, among other matters.
Ashurst advised ioneer throughout the whole process including engagement and negotiation with various bidders from term sheets to binding documentation for shortlisted bidders, provision of various regulatory advice and engagement with the ASX regarding the transaction.
ioneer and Sibanye-Stillwater have also entered into a subscription agreement for the placement of US$70 million of ioneer shares to Sibanye-Stillwater. The placement is subject to various conditions precedent, including ioneer obtaining shareholder approval at an extraordinary general meeting to be held on 21 October 2021, and is expected to complete in the December quarter of 2021.
The Ashurst team was led by partner Anton Harris who was assisted by partner Anita Choi, senior associate Dillon Fuzi, with lawyers David Tilley, Georgia Sparta and Daniel Oey.