Jadar project update
On 20 January 2022, the Government of Serbia cancelled the spatial plan and revoked our licences related to the proposed lithium-borates project.
There were significant concerns about the potential impact of the mine on the local communities of the Jadar valley and we understand that we need to show that these concerns can be addressed and managed. We are focused on talking with all stakeholders so we can work together to explore all options related to the project’s future. We believe in Jadar, a world-class project with the potential to play an essential role in the transition to a low carbon future and are working through what this means for the project and our people in Serbia.
We’re a long-term landowner and have made commitments to the community and suppliers. We will continue to honour our obligations despite our permits and licenses being cancelled.
A lithium-boron deposit with the potential to make Serbia a major global producer
Jadar is named after jadarite, a lithium sodium borosilicate mineral we discovered in Serbia in 2004, near the city of Loznica in western Serbia.
As one of the largest greenfield lithium projects in the world, Jadar could produce battery-grade lithium carbonate, a critical mineral used in large scale batteries for electric vehicles and storing renewable energy.
We are working hard to establish trusting and respectful relationships with Jadar communities, including landowners, the Government of the Republic of Serbia, and all other relevant stakeholders such as NGOs and civil society organisations. And we remain committed to optimising the economic and social benefits while minimising any negative impacts to the community and the environment."
Marnie Finlayson, Battery Minerals
Questions & answers
What is the Jadar Project?
Jadarite is a new mineral deposit containing lithium and boron that was discovered by our geologists in 2004 near Loznica in the Jadar Valley in Western Serbia, some 160 kilometres from the capital of Belgrade. The high-grade, large-scale deposit is a promising addition to the world’s supply of materials for low-carbon technologies, such as the batteries used for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.
What is the significance of such a discovery?
Lithium, the lightest of all metals, is proving to be an essential ingredient in many of the world’s low-carbon technologies. It doesn’t occur on its own in nature but is found combined with other minerals. The discovery of a high-grade, large-scale reserve of a new mineral that contains lithium presents exciting new opportunities for contributing to a more low-carbon future.
How was geological exploration carried out?
We employed several geological investigation techniques to certify the available reserves at Jadar, with drilling the primary technique used (drilling core and rotary drilling without a core). Holes were drilled over a licensed area covering 60km2.
What will the mine produce?
The Jadar deposit and its unique mineral, Jadarite, contains high-grade mineralisation of boron and lithium. Jadar will be capable of producing three products on an annual basis, all in powdered form:
- ~ 58,000 tonnes of refined battery-grade lithium carbonate
- 160,000 tonnes of boric acid
- 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulphate
These products are important to the production of large-scale batteries for electric vehicles and for the storage of renewable energy. Borates are used in solar panels and wind turbines and in many household products such as detergents and cosmetics, as well as in fibreglass insulation, glass for cell phones and in fertilisers. Sodium sulphate is used in the textile industry and in the production of powdered detergents and glass.
What experience does Rio Tinto have with lithium mining?
We entered the lithium industry through our Boron mine in California, where borates have been mined since 1927. In 2019, we established a demonstration project at Boron to recover battery-grade lithium from the boron waste piles and this has been used to test the capacity to progress to larger-scale production. Jadar will build directly upon the Boron experience and the two operations will be complementary.
We have also developed a new, innovative technology for the production of lithium carbonate and boric acid from the mined Jadarite ore, with a small-scale test plant developed at our research centre in Australia to test the new technology. A global team of experts has conducted some 2,000 tests to date to confirm the technical viability of producing the three products from the Jadarite ore. This has led to numerous improvements in the production process and in the health, safety and environmental protection processes.
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