Electric car charger

Lithium

Lithium is an essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric cars, as well as rechargeable power for laptops, phones and other devices. It is the lightest of all metals, making it well suited for use in everything from pacemakers to jets.

Lithium does not occur on its own in nature but is found combined with other minerals. At our Jadar project, we discovered lithium in a new mineral in the Jadar Valley in Serbia, now known as jadarite.

Lithium is part of our portfolio of materials essential to a low-carbon future. Lithium is a key element needed for low-carbon technologies including the electrification of transport, large-scale batteries and energy storage. Double digit growth in lithium demand is forecast over the next decade.

Our lithium products

We source our battery-grade lithium in the US from nearly a century’s worth of mining waste rock at our Boron operations in California.

Our process involves roasting and leaching waste rock to recover lithium. Since it involves separating lithium from waste rock that has already been mined, this breakthrough process is a more sustainable alternative to other sources of lithium supply. 

Our demonstration plant in California has a design capacity of 10 tonnes per year of battery grade lithium. Priorities in 2021 include optimising the process to inform our feasibility assessment for progressing to a commercial scale plant. This plant would have an initial capacity of at least 5,000 tonnes per year of lithium, or enough to make batteries for approximately 70,000 electric vehicles.

We produce battery grade lithium carbonate that meets the strict quality assurance standards required by the electric vehicle industry.

Boron Operations, EV sign
Boron Operations, EV sign

Lithium sales

Leo Jaime, Americas and Europe
leo.jaime@riotinto.com


W: lithium.borax.com

Without lithium ion batteries you won’t have rapid mass adoption of electric vehicles or energy storage. And without the lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite anode and manganese supply chains to feed these battery plants, you won’t have lithium ion batteries.”

- Simon Moores, Managing Director, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

Rincon lithium project

We have acquired 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, helping us deliver on our commitment to decarbonise our portfolio.

The new mineral, jadarite

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. Double digit growth in lithium demand is forecast over the next decade.

Partnerships across the value chain 

Partnerships and collaboration are essential to bringing lithium from mine to market. For example, we are investing in European-based battery technology and manufacturing company InoBat Auto to support the development of a battery ecosystem in Europe – spanning R&D, lithium mining, battery manufacturing and recycling.

InoBat has a battery research and development facility and pilot plant under development in Slovakia and is actively pursuing plans to build a number of gigafactories, including one in Serbia where our proposed Jadar lithium mine  is located.

We also support industry-wide initiatives aimed at building a competitive, sustainable and innovative value chain in Europe, such as the European Battery Alliance and the European Raw Materials Alliance.

 

Video footage © Somsak Siripatcharathorn, mrs_veronik, MPstudio and snvv via Canva.com
  • Batteries
    Powering everyday life
    Lithium is a key component in the batteries that power your smart phone, electric vehicle and gaming controller. 
  • Battery storage
    Helping to store clean energy
    Lithium is used in batteries to store the power generated from wind turbines and solar photovoltaic cells.
  • Recycling bin
    Cradle to cradle recycling
    According to Canadian Mining, around 95% of the cobalt, lithium and graphite in batteries can be reused. We have formed a partnership with InoBat to accelerate the establishment of a “cradle to cradle” battery manufacturing and recycling value chain in Serbia.
  • Glazes
    Brightening up our world
    Used in ceramic glazes, lithium can improve viscosity, improve transparency, increase ceramic strength and even brighten up the colours of the glazes. 

Lithium download (Serbian)