Rio Tinto and InoBat Auto to collaborate on European battery production and recycling project

by John Shepherd
InoBat is developing a pilot batteries production plant in Slovakia. Image: Inobat
Metals and mining corporation Rio Tinto is to work with Slovakian battery developer, InoBat Auto, to "accelerate the establishment of a cradle-to-cradle battery manufacturing and recycling chain” in Eastern Europe.

Rio Tinto said the partnership will focus on its 100%-owned Jadar lithium-borates project in Western Serbia, which has the potential to produce "about 55,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate in Europe” – and supply the expanding electric vehicle (EV) batteries market.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the companies, the partnership will support InoBat’s ongoing development of a pilot batteries production plant in Slovakia.

The MD of Rio Tinto’s borates and lithium businesses, Marnie Finlayson, said the collaboration "will enable an important exchange of knowledge and information on lithium processing, recycling and technologies for the next generation of batteries”.

'High throughput batteries'

Rio Tinto said the scale and high-grade nature of the Jadar deposit "provides the potential for a mine to supply lithium products into the EV value chain for decades”.

In 2020, Rio Tinto approved an investment of almost $200m (£141m) to complete the final phase of a study at the Jadar project – which is expected to be finalised this year. If the corporation decides to invest in the project, construction of a mine is expected to take up to four years.

World Battery News has reported previously on InoBat’s development of ‘high throughput’ (HTP) battery technology, provided by US-based Wildcat Discovery Technologies. InoBat said its proprietary mixture of HTP and artificial intelligence gives it a technological advantage in R&D; to optimise battery requirements at a small scale, which can be "quickly and efficiently replicated on a larger scale”.

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