BELGRADE (Serbia), November 16 (SeeNews) - Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto said on Tuesday it plans to support the construction of a gigafactory of Slovak battery technology and manufacturing company InoBat in Serbia where the group is developing its Jadar project for production of battery grade lithium carbonate.
Rio Tinto has decided to support the completion of a research and development (R&D) centre and pilot battery line in Slovakia's Voderady by InoBat, a company that is actively pursuing plans to build a number of gigafactories, including one in Serbia, the company said in a statement.
The investment follows a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with InoBat in May, outlining an intention to work together to progress the establishment of a "cradle-to-cradle" electric vehicle battery value chain in Serbia, Rio Tinto said.
"Our Jadar lithium project in Serbia is on the doorstep of the European electric vehicle market. Capable of producing enough lithium to make around one million electric vehicle batteries a year to the highest environmental standards, we believe Jadar will be a critical supplier of the European battery ecosystem and, through our investment in InoBat, we hope that we can assist in making some of those batteries locally," Rio Tinto's battery materials business managing director, Marnie Finlayson said.
Rio Tinto's $2.4 billion Jadar lithium-borates project in Serbia is one of the largest greenfield lithium projects in development. The Jadar project has the potential to produce approximately 58,000 tonnes of battery grade lithium carbonate and position Rio Tinto as the largest source of lithium supply in Europe for at least the next 15 years, the company estimated.
First saleable production is expected in 2026 at a time of strong market fundamentals with lithium demand forecast to grow 25-35% per year over the next decade. Following ramp-up to full production in 2029, the mine will produce about 58,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate, 160,000 tonnes of boric acid and 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulphate annually. Rio Tinto aims to produce 2.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate over the expected 40-year life of mine.
($ = 0.87441 euro)