Powering a cleaner future

Lithium plays a role in a sustainable world.

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Lithium from Rio Tinto

Lithium plays an essential role in our daily lives, and is used in a variety of products, including:

  • Batteries for hybrid and electric cars
  • Enamels and glazes for ceramics

Lithium—considered a critical mineral by many countries—is part of our portfolio of materials essential to a low-carbon future.

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

We are also investing in a future source at our Jadar project in Serbia, subject to receiving all relevant approvals, permits, and licenses and ongoing engagement with local communities, the Government of Serbia, and civil society. The scale and high-grade nature of the Jadar deposit provides the potential for a mine to supply lithium products into the electric vehicle value chain for decades. Following ramp up to full production in 2029, the mine will produce ~58,000 tonnes1 of lithium carbonate, making us one of the top 10 lithium producers in the world.

1These production targets were previously reported in a release to the ASX dated 10 December 2020, “Rio Tinto declares maiden Ore Reserve at Jadar.” All material assumptions underpinning the production targets continue to apply and have not materially changed.

Lithium ion battery

Batteries

Battery-grade lithium carbonate is used to make lithium-ion batteries—commonly found in portable electronics, electric vehicles, and large energy storage systems.

Compared to traditional battery technology, lithium-ion batteries offer:

  • Higher energy density which is important in many applications to reduce weight
  • Low self-discharge rates
  • Low maintenance

Lithium forms an essential component of not just lithium-ion batteries but also other battery chemistries. We expect to produce battery grade lithium carbonate that meets the strictest quality assurance standards required by the electric vehicle industry.

Ceramics

Technical-grade lithium carbonate is frequently used in ceramic glazes where it acts as a flux. Adding lithium to glazes can also:

  • Lower the melting point which can translate into a lower firing temperature
  • Improve viscosity
  • Brighten colors
  • Increase transparency
  • Help create a harder finished surface and increase ceramic strength
Ceramic dish with lithium glaze


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