Sustainability

Lithium’s role in a sustainable world

Rio Tinto contributes to a more sustainable world by providing materials essential for human progress in a sustainable way. Part of that is how we—as custodians of natural and mineral resources—extract full-value and manage waste from mining operations.

Jadar: Building a sustainable lithium mine

We are committed to forming respectful, lasting, and mutually beneficial relationships with landowners, the local community, the Serbian government, and other stakeholders—now and through the life of the operation.

Minimizing our environmental impact

We know that our work, by its very nature, impacts the environment, and we seek to minimize and mitigate any adverse impacts from our operations. Environmental Impact Assessment Studies of the future underground mine, concentrate processing plant, and industrial waste storage are being carried out. These studies allow us to build a comprehensive picture of the environment before mining begins, predict the impacts—including cumulative impacts of our future operations—and define measures to minimize or eliminate them.

As part of our mitigation measures, we have already committed to investing $100M in environmental protection measures.

Overlooking the Jadar valley
 

Sustainability through innovation

When developed, Jadar will be a modern industrial operation, for a sustainable world.
 

Download the Jadar sustainability report  ›

12


environmental studies completed

23,000+


analyses of soil, water, air, and noise

2,000


chemical tests

Reducing our water use

We're designing Jadar to maximize the reuse of process water and minimize the total volume of water that needs to be treated. The portion of water not reused will be treated in a state of the art wastewater facility. Excess water from the process is treated to meet all specifications required by environmental regulations in Serbia and is at the same or better quality before being reintroduced into waterways.

Responsible waste management

Our Jadar mine and processing facility will generate two types of waste:

  • Rock material from the underground mine from which jadarite cannot be extracted
  • Industrial waste produced when processing jadarite

The waste rock from the mine will be placed in a waste rock dump adjacent to mine shafts. The waste is a combination of three major, individual residue streams produced from different stages of processing. Approximately 30% of the total process residue streams produced are returned to the underground mine as part of the backfill mix. This waste storage area will include a state-of-the-art system for monitoring the air, water, and soil quality, to ensure that we minimize and manage potential impacts to the environment. And, we will progressively rehabilitate the land in this area.

Continued commitment at Boron

We have been mining at our current site for more than 90 years. In that time, we have gone from an underground mine to the largest open-pit mine in the state of California. And, our commitment to protecting the environment stretches from our early borates business to present day.

Carbon-free energy

We are partnering with renewable energy technology company Heliogen to explore the use of heat from the sun to generate and store carbon-free energy to power the mine’s industrial processes. From 2022, Heliogen’s system will supplement existing energy sources and reduce carbon emissions at Boron by up to 7%–equivalent to taking more than 5,000 cars off the road. It will also store the captured energy in the form of heat, allowing it to power night operations and providing the same uninterrupted energy stream offered by legacy fuels.

Heliogen partnership
 

Generating carbon-free energy

With Heliogen's breakthrough technology, we’ll reduce our emissions on site by around 7%.

Watch the video  ›

Legacy of land donation

Back in 1916, company officials helped write the language that was adopted by the U.S. Congress to establish the National Park Service. Out of respect for California's Death Valley, leaders donated land holdings to the federal government and lobbied to have the area protected as a National Monument in 1933 and again as a National Park in 1994.

In 2010, U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, donated another 110 acres and associated mineral rights to the federal government to expand Death Valley National Park. The donation extends the perimeter of the park, giving its nearly one million annual visitors even more of this spectacular wilderness to explore.

Protecting wildlife

Our 950-square-foot, state- and federally-sanctioned Wildlife Rescue Center is a sanctuary for threatened and endangered species covered under federal and California Endangered Species Acts and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The center aids stressed birds rescued from the company’s six boric acid tailings ponds and six reclamation ponds.

Electric car in green landscape

Lithium: Powering a cleaner future

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

We are proud to be part of a better environment—from mine to manufacturing.