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Metso to deliver technology for proposed Thunder Bay lithium refinery

Avalon Advanced Materials signs MOU with European industrial technology leader
(Metso Corp photo)

Avalon Advanced Materials has landed a development and technology partner to operate a future lithium hydroxide refinery in Thunder Bay.

The Toronto-based mine builder announced July 10 it has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Metso Corporation of Finland to deploy its  “world-leading technology to construct and operationalize” a lithium processing plant at a newly acquired property in Thunder Bay’s north end.

Helsinki-based Metso  is considered a global leader in clean, sustainable critical-mineral processing technology. It brings to the table an innovative and environmentally friendly alkaline process that allows for the elimination of the chemicals, such as sulfuric acid, and reduces solid waste and emissions.

The two companies recently signed the MOU at Canada House in London, United Kingdom. The release said a definitive agreement should be reached by Sept 1.

Lithium hydroxide is a battery-grade material used in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EV).

Avalon’s goal is to become a vertically-integrated miner and processor. There are no lithium refineries in Canada, forcing lithium companies to process their own mined material to sell to downstream EV and battery manufacturers.

Last month, Avalon secured a European mining partner, Sibelco, to assist with the development of its Separation Rapids lithium project, north of Kenora, and its other properties in northwestern Ontario.

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Avalon said its combined mining and processing operation will create 500 jobs in Kenora and Thunder Bay. 

According to Avalon’s latest investor presentation, Separation Rapids could start mine production in late 2025. Refinery production is slated for late 2027.

"Metso's platform and technological solutions perfectly complement Avalon's vision to complete an integrated lithium value chain in Ontario, predicated on innovative process solutions," commented Avalon President Zeeshan Syed in the release.

"We view Metso as an integral part of this rapidly growing sector, and a foundational partner in developing internationally best-in-class processing capabilities that are environmentally sustainable, allowing Avalon to meet the soaring demand for battery-grade lithium." 

“Metso is looking forward to partnering with Avalon and be part of its long-term vision to be a mid-stream supplier in the lithium hydroxide space. We are aligned with Avalon’s vision of the future and proud to play a key role in technology supply and advancement into clean energy solutions,” said Mikko Rantaharju, head of hydrometallurgy at Metso.