We continue to progress important growth opportunities and projects, to bring to market materials critical to the transition to a low-carbon economy: copper, lithium and iron ore, among others.
We have a strong portfolio of projects and exploration activity in seven commodities across more than 18 countries. We focus on investing in quality organic growth and use data and technology to improve our targeting, allowing us to uncover opportunities in areas that have been well explored by others.
In July 2021, we committed funding of $2.4 billion to develop the Jadar lithium/borates project in Serbia. Our proposed Jadar lithium/borates project in Serbia will include an underground mine, an industrial processing facility and associated infrastructure. On 20 January 2022, the Serbian Prime Minister announced Serbia was withdrawing the spatial plan and revoking licences related to our proposed Jadar lithium-borates project. Throughout our work on the Jadar project we have always operated in compliance with the laws of the Republic of Serbia. We are reviewing the legal basis of this decision and the implications to our activities and our people in Serbia.
In December 2021, we entered a binding agreement to acquire the Rincon lithium project, a large undeveloped lithium brine project located in the Salta province of Argentina, an emerging hub for greenfield projects. The project is a long life, scaleable resource capable of producing battery grade lithium carbonate. It has the potential to have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry that can help deliver on our decarbonisation commitment.
In 2018, we announced the development of the $2.6 billion Gudai-Darri (Koodaideri) iron ore project – our most intelligent mine – located in the Pilbara, Western Australia. First production from the main plant is expected in the second quarter of 2022, subject to the continuing impacts of COVID-19.
In July 2021, we approved a $108 million investment for underground characterisation studies to support an underground mine below the existing open pit at Kennecott Utah Copper. Potential underground mining would occur concurrently with open pit operations and result in increased copper output.
At Oyu Tolgoi, in Mongolia, we are building a world-class underground mine. Oyu Tolgoi has reserves and resources that make it one of the world’s largest known copper and gold deposits. When working to full capacity, it is expected to be the world’s fourth-biggest copper mine.
In 2004, we discovered a new mineral – now known as jadarite – in the Jadar Valley in western Serbia. Jadarite is unique given its chemical concentrations of lithium, boron and other minerals.