The deal-making skill that helped make Neometals become the first of a new breed of Australian Lithium producers has come to the fore once again. The ASX-listed company has landed a Serbian steel mill as its first licensed customer for the company’s “Neomet” mineral processing technology. The agreement will see Neometals use the deal as a showcase for a planned rollout of the technology worldwide
Neometals have kick-started a planned worldwide rollout of its patented Neomet processing technology with the signing of their first sub-licence agreement with a steel mill in Serbia.
Neomet is a process that can be bolted on to existing processing plants to boost recoveries of almost any kind of metal. It was invented by Bryn Harris, a former professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada with the original aim of boosting recoveries from precious and base metal concentrates.
Neometals came into the picture in 2012, when they licensed the technology for their 100%-owned Barrambie Titanium project. After almost three years of testing, they were so impressed with the technology that they secured a global licence to market Neomet and would pay the inventor 25% of the revenue from the commercialisation of the technology.
The company also formed a strategic alliance with CIMIC-owned process engineers Sedgman to take Neomet to processing plants worldwide.
The first step in that plan fell into place this week with news that Neometals had sub-licensed the technology to a joint venture between a steel mill in Serbia and a European investment group specialising in industrial waste processing.
The modular Neomet plant will be co-located at the mill to recover zinc, copper, iron, silver and lead by processing electric arc furnace dust, which can contain up to 35% zinc.
Under the sub-licensing deal, the Serbian mill will pay Neometals 25% of a royalty on the gross proceeds of any metals produced using the Neomet process. Neometals is keen to use the mill as a showcase and has granted a three-year royalty holiday in return for the right to take potential customers through the mill.
In a statement to the ASX, Neometals said the new agreement was a solid step forward in its strategy to develop and hold a portfolio of royalty interests from sub-licensing of the technology.
This potential new money spinner is in addition to Neometals’ plans to use Neomet at its Barrambie project, which also took a big step forward this week. The company announced it was evaluating a fast-track start up through direct shipping of ore to China and would launch pilot-scale concentrate trials before the end of the year.
Management said the timescale for construction of the Neomet plant in Serbia, which is subject to the results of pilot testing, would be advised once the mill and its joint venture partners had secured an engineering, procurement and construction contract.