Rio Tinto commits $2.4bn for Serbia lithium project to become key European battery materials supplier

by John Shepherd
Chief executive Jakob Stausholm: 'We have great confidence in the Jadar project.'. Photo: Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto has committed $2.4bn (£1.7bn) to develop a greenfield lithium project in Serbia and position the mining giant as "the largest source of lithium supply in Europe” for at least the next 15 years.

The company said its commitment to its 100%-owned Jadar lithium-borates project, which is subject to receiving various approvals and licences, is aimed at becoming a key supplier of materials to Europe’s burgeoning electric vehicles battery industry.

Rio Tinto said Jadar, where construction work is targeted to start next year, will produce battery-grade lithium carbonate – a critical mineral used in large scale batteries for EVs, energy storage systems – and produce borates used in solar panels and wind turbines.

'Great confidence'

Chief executive Jakob Stausholm said: "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.

"The Jadar deposit and its unique mineral, Jadarite, discovered by Rio Tinto geologists in 2004, contains high-grade mineralisation of boron and lithium, supporting a long-life operation in the first quartile of the cost curve for both products.”

The next steps for the project include applying for an exploitation licence and obtaining approval of environmental impact assessment studies.

'Top 10 producer'

First saleable production at Jadar is expected in 2026. Following ramp up to full production in 2029, the mine will produce ~58,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate, 160,000 tonnes of boric acid (B2O3 units) and 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulfate annually, which Rio Tinto said would make it one of the top ten lithium producers in the world.
Based on this annual production of lithium carbonate, Rio Tinto aims to produce 2.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate over the expected 40-year life of mine.

World Battery News reported earlier this year that Rio Tinto planned 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, focused on the Jadar project.

Related articles in our archive: