UK-based metals and mining company Rio Tinto has announced an investment of nearly $200m to progress the Jadar lithium-borate project in Serbia to the next stage of development.

Discovered by Rio Tinto in 2004, Jadar is a lithium-borate deposit near the town of Loznica in Serbia. It comprises high-grade mineralisation of boron and lithium.

The funding from the company will primarily be used for the feasibility study, detailed engineering designs, permitting and land acquisition, which are set to be complete by the end of 2021.

Rio Tinto completed detailed exploration of the Jadarite deposit

Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals chief executive Bold Baatar said: “Rio Tinto’s lithium project pipeline is an important part of our vision to pursue opportunities which are part of the transition to a low-carbon future.

“We look forward to working closely with the Government of Serbia over the next eighteen months as we develop and validate our understanding of the project to the point when we can seek a final investment decision by the Board of Rio Tinto.”

In February this year, the company has already completed the detailed exploration of the Jadarite deposit.

Rio Tinto said that the development of the project includes an underground mine, an industrial processing facility and all associated infrastructure.

Additionally, the project has the potential to supply end-industrial products for lithium batteries which are used in electric vehicles and energy storage facilities and also supply borate used in detergents, cosmetics and other consumer goods manufacturing.

At the same time, the company has also commenced work on commissioning its lithium demonstration plant in the US.

The plant extracts lithium from waste rock at the company’s Boron mine located in California.

Recently, Rio Tinto has announced maiden resource at the Winu copper-gold deposit in the Paterson Province of Western Australia (WA).