No financial details were released. The company's scope of work under the front-end engineering design deal includes process and plant technology for the complete process chain, from ore comminution via logistics for concentrate handling up to and including the extractive metallurgy processes; a full process integration from the point of delivery of ore to the underground crusher through to the delivery of finished battery-grade lithium chemicals for battery and cathode manufacturers; and the lithium process flowsheet and the tin/tungsten recovery circuit delivering metal concentrates to refineries.
SMS will be responsible for all process steps: comminution, beneficiation, roasting, leaching and purification.
"The FEED is intended to deliver a binding fixed-price lump-sum turnkey EPC contract with associated process guarantee and product specification guarantees for battery-grade lithium chemicals," the group said.
It called the project an "important cornerstone" in the advancement of European import-independent battery production. When it is operational, the facility will produce about 22,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate or about 25,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide annually as well as tin and tungsten concentrates from a byproducts recovery circuit.
All operations will be in full compliance with the most stringent environmental standards, SMS noted.
"We are very familiar with the Cinovec project and take pride in having been chosen by Geomet as lead engineer under this FEED agreement," strategic project development head Herbert Weissenbaeck said.
"Especially, as we see that off-the-shelf metallurgical processes are becoming increasingly inadequate for the extraction of valuable metals from non-conventional ores at reasonable costs and with a minimum ecological footprint, we can count on our broad-based portfolio of technologies and our extensive know-how in both pyro and hydrometallurgy, offering our customers in the technological metals sector optimized, integrated solutions."
Geomet's JV partners are European Metals and Czech energy giant CEZ.