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Rio Tinto commits $2.4 bln funding to Jadar lithium project in Serbia

Author Radomir Ralev
Rio Tinto commits $2.4 bln funding to Jadar lithium project in Serbia Source: Rio Tinto

BELGRADE (Serbia), July 28 (SeeNews) – Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto has committed $2.4 billion (2.0 billion euro) to the Jadar lithium-borates project in Serbia, it said.

The project, which remains subject to receiving all relevant approvals, permits and licences and ongoing engagement with local communities, would scale up Rio Tinto's exposure to battery materials, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

“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," Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said.

Jadar will contribute 1% directly and 4% indirectly to Serbia's gross domestic product (GDP), with many Serbian suppliers involved in the construction of the mine, the company noted.

“We are committed to upholding the highest environmental standards and building sustainable futures for the communities where we operate. We recognise that in progressing this project, we must listen to and respect the views of all stakeholders,” Stausholm said.

The Jadar development will include an underground mine with associated infrastructure and equipment, including electric haul trucks, as well as a beneficiation chemical processing plant to be built utilising dry stacking of tailings. Water management will be state of the art with a dedicated facility resulting in approximately 70% of raw water coming from recycled sources or treated mine water.

Rio Tinto will create 2,100 jobs during construction and 1,000 mining and processing jobs once in production.

First saleable production is expected in 2026 at a time of strong market fundamentals with lithium demand forecast to grow 25-35% per year over the next decade. Following ramp up to full production in 2029, the mine will produce about 58,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate, 160,000 tonnes of boric acid and 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulphate annually. Rio Tinto aims to produce 2.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate over the expected 40-year life of mine.

($ = 0.846958 euro)