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September, 17th 2021

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JUL 28
07:50

LITHIUM: Rio Tinto approves $2.4 billion Jadar project in Serbia

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Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto is earmarking $2.4 billion of investment into the Jadar lithium project in Serbia – one of the world’s largest greenfield lithium projects, Kallanish reports.

The investment commitment, announced on Tuesday, remains subject to the project obtaining all the necessary approvals to go ahead. Rio Tinto will now seek an exploitation license, which will require Serbian authorities to green light its environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies. A consultation on these will be shortly open to the public for comments.

Once EIA is approved, Rio Tinto may commence works. Construction is targeted to start in 2022, with first commercial production estimated for 2026. The Jadar project is planned to produce around 58,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate at full production rate in 2029. On a cumulative basis, it would produce around 2.3 million t of the battery raw material over the expected 40 years life of mine.

At these levels, the miner says it will be positioned as “the largest source of lithium supply in Europe for at least the next 15 years,” helping to address the forecast 25-35% annual global demand growth over the next decade. The project will also produce borates (used in solar panels and wind turbines), as well as sodium.

“We have great confidence in the Jadar project and are ready to invest, subject to approvals. Serbia and Rio Tinto will be well-positioned to capture the opportunity offered by rising demand for lithium, driven by the global energy transition and the project will strengthen our offering, particularly to the European market,” says ceo Jakob Stausholm. “It could supply enough lithium to power over one million electric vehicles per year.”

The Jadar deposit is made of the unique Jadarite mineral, discovered by Rio Tinto geologists in 2004 near the city of Loznica, western Serbia. Current development plans include an underground mine, a beneficiation processing plant and associated infrastructure and equipment. Rio Tinto says it will use electric haul trucks and ensure the project upholds the “highest environmental standards.”

It plans to use dry stacking of tailings enabling them to be progressively reclaimed with vegetation and soil with no need for a tailings dam. A dedicated facility would also enable 70% of water to be used from recycled sources or treated mine water. To date, the company has carried out 12 environmental studies and over 23,000 analyses of air and water.

Gabriela Farhangi UK