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ioneer, Caterpillar complete agreement regarding autonomous haul trucks at Rhyolite Ridge

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(Kitco News) - ioneer Ltd (Nasdaq: IONR), an emerging lithium–boron supplier, today announced the completion of a Technology System Supply Agreement with Caterpillar, the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

The company said that this definitive agreement builds upon the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year and solidifies the early introduction of Cat® MineStarTM Command for hauling, Autonomous Haul System (AHS) at ioneer's Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in Esmerelda County, Nevada.

The results of the Rhyolite Ridge feasibility study in February 2021 showed the viability of AHS at the mine and the proposed application of AHS could positively impact the overall cost structure of the operations.

According to a press-release, operations are scheduled to start in 2024 with a fleet of Cat 785 next generation mining trucks equipped with Command for hauling, and the fleet is scheduled to expand significantly in 2028.

This will be the first greenfield operation in North America to utilize AHS and will mark the expansion of Command for hauling automation technology to the 140-tonne class Cat785 next generation mining truck, the company noted.

As stated in an October 2020 news release, the equipment, technology, and services for the first five years of operation is valued at approximately U.S. $100 million and may be financed through Caterpillar Financial Services.

Managing Director Bernard Rowe stated, "We are pleased to continue to solidify our partnership with Caterpillar as we work towards commencement of production at Rhyolite Ridge. We continue to believe the incorporation of an autonomous haulage system and other Caterpillar technologies at Rhyolite Ridge will only further our goal to improve project safety and operational efficiency."

ioneer Ltd is the 100% owner of the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA, the only known lithium-boron deposit in North America and one of only two known such deposits in the world.

In September 2021, ioneer entered a 50/50 joint venture agreement with Sibanye Stillwater Ltd to advance the Rhyolite Ridge project. The company has signed lithium offtake agreements Ford Motor Company, PPES (joint venture between Toyota Motor Corporation and Panasonic Corporation) and EcoPro Innovation.

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