(AUSTRALIA) – Liontown has finalized the last of the construction contracts for the Kathleen Valley lithium mine and spodumene production plant.
This move comes shortly after Hancock Prospecting, led by Mrs. Rinehart, expressed its capacity to provide construction, mining, and downstream processing expertise for the project.
Mr. Ottaviano, commenting on the contract award, stated, “There is a clear line of sight to first spodumene production mid-next year,” seemingly downplaying Hancock’s concerns about “significant risk” associated with Kathleen Valley.
He also praised engineering firm Monadelphous, which secured the final construction contract, saying, “Their demonstrated skills, capability, and professionalism reflect Liontown’s expectations of a partnership.”
Hancock, having acquired a stake of at least 7.72 percent in Liontown, has indicated its interest in securing a seat on the board.
Liontown has been the subject of a $6.6 billion takeover bid by New York-listed Albemarle, which offered $3 per share.
Despite the share price of Liontown rising slightly to $3.05 in Wednesday’s trading, the gap between the share price and Albemarle’s offer remains.
Albemarle’s stock price drops amid Liontown takeover
Albemarle’s share price, on the other hand, has decreased from approximately $US200 when the takeover offer was accepted by the Liontown board on September 4 to a Tuesday close of $US184.35.
This marks a nearly 38 percent decline since last September when Albemarle first expressed interest in Liontown.
Regarding any change of control provisions in the construction, mining, and logistics contracts awarded for Kathleen Valley, Liontown declined to comment.
The company, however, celebrated the awarding of a $100 million contract to Monadelphous for work on a processing plant as a significant milestone.
Liontown expressed confidence in its existing expertise and shared plans to apply “lessons learned from industry peers” to bring Kathleen Valley into production.
Hancock has not disclosed its plans for Liontown beyond stating its strategic stake in the company and its willingness to offer expertise to support the project’s development and operations.
Liontown has recently secured several substantial contracts, including a $1 billion agreement with underground mining contractor Byrnecut and a $175 million deal with Qube for transportation services.
Byrnecut, expected to commence work in November, is set to establish Australia’s first underground lithium mine at Kathleen Valley.
Monadelphous, chosen for the latest construction contract, recently won $160 million worth of work on a chemical grade processing plant at the Greenbushes lithium mine, co-owned by Albemarle.
Monadelphous is involved in Albemarle’s lithium hydroxide plant at Kemerton in Western Australia.
Albemarle, which has yet to comment publicly on Hancock’s strategic stake in Liontown, recently announced receiving $US90 million from the US Department of Defence to support lithium mining on American soil.
The funds will be used to acquire mining equipment for reopening the Kings Mountain lithium mine in North Carolina, with production expected to commence by late 2026, following a previous $US150 million grant from the US Department of Energy.