The company said the U.S. Department of Energy found that its application for funding under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program is “substantially complete” and can proceed to the third of four stages. A final decision is expected within six months.
The Department of Energy could not be immediately reached outside of normal business hours.
While it’s not guaranteed ioneer will receive the loan, the step is a vote of confidence in the company’s $850 million Rhyolite Ridge project – 355 miles north of Las Vegas – despite environmentalists refusing https://www.Reuters.com/business/energy/go-electric-america-needs-more-mines-can-it-build-them-2021-03-01, regulators and others.
It also reflects growing US government concerns https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-minerals-electric-idUKKCN1SK0L7 that without additional investment, demand for the white metal could exceed supply and delay efforts to combat climate change.
South African miner Sibanye Stillwater Ltd bought half of the Rhyolite Ridge project in September for $490 million. Ioneer hopes the US government will lend it 40-50% of the remaining cost of the project through the ATVM.
The third stage of the ATVM loan review will include a more detailed analysis of the economics of the project by the government and outside experts, Ioneer said.
The company said it expects the mine to open by 2024. The US Fish & Wildlife Service https://www.Reuters.com/article/usa-mining-ioneer-idCNL1N2QX202 can list a flower rare on the ioneer mine site as endangered, a step that would not necessarily stall the project, but could prevent permitting.
Tesla Inc and Nissan Motor Co Ltd are among the former recipients of ATVM loans. Piedmont Lithium Inc has applied for ATVM loan financing for its lithium mine project in North Carolina.