British-Australian mining corporation Rio Tinto has invested $100 million (86.3 million euro) in the development of the Jadar lithium borate discovery in Serbia since 2004, the Serbian government said.
“As Jadar can significantly influence the development of Loznica and the whole region, the government has established an inter-ministerial working group to cooperate with the investor on all aspects of the project,” prime minister Ana Brnabic said in a statement on Thursday.
The mining group discovered in 2004 the world-class lithium borate deposit in the valley of the Jadar river, near the Serbian town of Loznica, and plans to start production in 2023.
In July 2017, Serbia’s government signed a memorandum of understanding with Rio Tinto related to the implementation of the Jadar project, opening the way for the creation of joint task groups to oversee the study phase of the project and the process of obtaining the necessary permits.
Rio Tinto has been active in Serbia since 2001 through its local subsidiary Rio Sava Exploration. The company has also established a subsidiary for the execution of geological surveys in Serbia and the region, Rio Tinto Explorations Dunav.
The Jadar lithium borate discovery in Serbia is estimated at 135.7 million tonnes with a weighted average concentration of 1.86% of lithium oxide, representing one of the largest lithium deposits in the world.
“The lightest metal on Earth, lithium is used in a vast array of products, most notably batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles,” Rio Tinto explains. “The deposit also contains borates, which are essential building blocks for heat resistant glass, fibreglass, ceramics, fertilisers, detergents, wood preservatives and many other household and commercial products.”