Partnership to cover the full commodity life-cycle, starting from mining to recycling of lithium

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Rio Tinto's Jadar project is currently awaiting an investment decision. (Credit: Alex Banner from Pixabay)

Rio Tinto has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with European battery technology and manufacturing company InoBat with an aim to fast track the setting up of a battery manufacturing and recycling value chain in Serbia.

According to the mining giant, the partnership will cover the full commodity life-cycle, right from mining to recycling of lithium.

Rio Tinto said that its greenfield Jadar project in Serbia can potentially yield nearly 55 thousand tonnes of battery grade lithium carbonate to cater to the European electric vehicles market.

The Jadar project is currently awaiting an investment decision, which is slated to be made after the completion of the $200m final phase of study this year.

Construction on the mine is likely to take up to four years, after which it will provide lithium products into the electric vehicle value chain for several years.

On the other hand, InoBat, which is developing a battery research and development facility and pilot plant in Slovakia, plans to expand its future production by setting up gigafactories in the Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

The company’s goal is to produce and recycle electric vehicle batteries for the European market.

Rio Tinto borates and lithium businesses managing director Marnie Finlayson said: “This collaboration with InoBat will enable an important exchange of knowledge and information on lithium processing, recycling and technologies for the next generation of batteries.

“It is a visionary initiative and one that is aligned with Rio Tinto’s commitment to partnerships that provide solutions to combat climate change.”

The collaboration between the Jadar project and InoBat is also expected to promote the development of a full lithium and electric vehicle battery value chain in Europe. The battery value chain is expected to harness and boost local skills, social, environmental, and governance standards and cross-border interactions.

InoBat Auto CEO Marian Bocek said: “The signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Rio Tinto represents an important step in achieving InoBat’s goal to utilise a European-based value chain and support European bid for technological independence.

“Our unique “cradle to cradle” approach covers the whole life-cycle of batteries from mining to recycling, in order to underpin circular economy efforts and the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”

Last month, Rio Tinto said that it had commenced production of battery-grade lithium from waste rock at a lithium demonstration plant installed at the Boron mine site in the US.