Rio Tinto has commenced its Australian lithium journey, exploring for the battery metal in the Western Australian outback alongside Everest Metals (EMC).
A drill program at the North Rover project is the culmination of an earn-in first signed in March 2022 under Everest’s former title, Twenty Seven Co.
Rio Tinto Exploration will complete approximately 1400m of reverse circulation drilling across seven drill holes, with each extending up to 200m deep.
The North Rover project spans a total of 460 square kilometres and covers two linear Archean greenstones in the mid-west region of WA. This region has been generating plenty of exploration interest of late, with the likes or Ramelius Resources, St George Mining and Venus Metals all actively exploring the area.
Rio Tinto’s work at North Rover forms part of the company’s broader lithium strategy, which also includes the development of the Rincon lithium-brine project in Argentina.
The major miner aims to initially build a small 3000-tonne-per-annum battery-grade lithium carbonate plant at Rincon to start with, with further investment going towards early works to support a full-scale operation.
Elsewhere, Rio Tinto continues to vie for the development of its Jadar lithium project in Serbia, and is working with the relevant stakeholders to turn the situation around.
The Serbian Government blocked the mine’s development in January 2022 amid protests from green groups.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić told reporters in December 2022 that while there would be no possibility of reviving the Jadar project, she held regrets regarding the mine, given the commercial opportunities that could stem from the project.
If developed, Jadar would be Europe’s largest lithium mine, with the potential to produce 58,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per annum.
Rio Tinto geologists first discovered Jadar in 2004, which contains jadarite – a fusion of boron and lithium.
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