Rincon Project, Argentina

Rincon Lithium Project

SALAR DEL RINCÓN, SALTA PROVINCE, ARGENTINA

The Rincon Lithium Project – a large, undeveloped lithium-brine project located in the heart of the ‘lithium triangle’ in Argentina – will be a valuable source of rapidly produced, high-quality lithium for the global energy transition.

A long-life, scalable resource capable of producing battery-grade lithium carbonate from raw brine, the project will help us deliver this vital resource to the global energy industry while meeting our commitment to decarbonise our operations by 2050.

Rincon strengthens our battery materials business and positions Rio Tinto to meet the double digit growth in demand for lithium over the next decade, at a time when supply is constrained. We will be working with local communities, the Province of Salta and the Government of Argentina as we develop this project to the highest ESG standards.”

- Jakob Stausholm, Chief Executive Officer, Rio Tinto

Lithium, a material for the future

A vital component for clean technologies such as electric vehicles and battery storage, lithium will play an essential role in the transition to a low carbon economy. With double-digit demand growth forecast for lithium over the next decade, our Rincon Lithium Project will be an important source of supply of battery-grade lithium carbonate for the electric-vehicle market.

Next steps

With the Rincon acquisition now complete, we are conducting studies; developing our strategy and timing; securing updates to existing Environmental Impact Assessment Permits. We will be engaging with local communities, The Province of Salta and the Government of Argentina to ensure the project is developed to the highest ESG standards.

A pilot plant is currently operating at the site and further work will focus on continuing to optimise the process and recoveries.

Innovation

Rincon’s unique, patented lithium-mining technology offers environmental, cost-saving and productivity benefits by compacting the extraction process into less than 24 hours.

Adsorption technology process

The plant pumps lithium-rich brine from a well in the salar (salt basin) into a storage tank, where it is pumped into a tank that uses resin to adsorb the lithium.

Once the resin is saturated with lithium, recycled water is used to desorb and recover more than 90% of the lithium present.

By conducting adsorption and desorption with raw brine and water at ambient temperature, the process also significantly reduces the energy consumption of the extraction process.

The remaining lithium-depleted brine – which is clean, non-contaminated water that is consistent in make-up to local water sources – is then pumped into an evaporation pond, where it is returned to the environment through natural precipitation.

Adsorption technology process