Rio Tinto has committed $2.4 billion for the construction of a lithium borate mine and processing plant for the Jadar project in Loznica, one of the world’s largest greenfield lithium projects.
The Jadar project is obliged to obtain all relevant approvals, permits and licenses and will continue to be implemented in cooperation with the local community, the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the non-governmental sector. This is an important milestone for the project and a strong confirmation of Rio Tinto’s commitment to supporting Serbia as a leading lithium supplier, given the volume and high quality of the Jadar deposit composition.
Jadar is planned to produce lithium carbonate of a quality suitable for battery production, a sought-after mineral used for the production of batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage. The Jadar project will position Rio Tinto as the largest lithium producer in Europe for at least the next 15 years. In addition, Jadar is planned to produce borates used in the development of renewable energy equipment such as solar panels and wind turbines.
The Jadar project includes an underground mine with associated infrastructure and equipment, including electric traction vehicles, as well as a chemical lithium carbonate chemical processing plant suitable for battery production. In order to minimize the impact on the local community, the mine will be built in accordance with the highest environmental standards, including the use of dry stacking of industrial waste. This innovative method enables gradual recultivation of dry waste with vegetation and soil, without the need to build a dam for liquid waste.
After construction, Jadar will be a modern industrial plant, with a digitally networked underground mine, monitored in real-time from a centralized operational center. In order to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption, the underground mine will use a fleet of almost entirely electric vehicles. Water management will be carried out with the help of a state-of-the-art plant, thanks to which approximately 70% of the water will be used from recycled sources or purified water from mines.
Jadar will also be the largest mining-process investment in Serbia. The project has the potential to contribute 1% directly and 4% indirectly to Serbia’s GDP, including many Serbian suppliers during the mine construction phase. The realization of the project will enable Jadar to be a big employer in the region and in Serbia. In the construction phase, the project will enable the creation of about 2,100 jobs, while in the work phase of the mine and the processing of mineral raw materials, 1,000 people will be employed.
Rio Tinto is also committed to helping develop local businesses so that they can support the operation over the coming decades.
Rio Tinto 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. It could supply enough lithium to power over one million electric vehicles per year ”
“The Jadar deposit and its unique mineral Jadarit were discovered by Rio Tinto geologists in 2004 near Loznica. It contains a high-quality composition of boron and lithium, thanks to which it can support long-term operations in the first quarter of operating costs for both products, “added Stausholm and continued “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.”
The next steps for the project are obtaining approvals for the exploitation field, as well as obtaining all permits and approvals. This includes the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment Study. As part of the environmental impact assessment, and in accordance with the regulations of the Republic of Serbia, Rio Tinto invites all interested parties to participate in the process of public discussion regarding the studies. In addition, Rio Tinto continues to organize roundtables with NGOs and the general public to encourage open dialogue.
Approval of the environmental impact assessment study is necessary for the start of works, and the construction of the mine is planned to begin during 2022.