Rio to Produce Lithium in California, Joining Electric Car Battery Race
Added 10-22-19 03:04:02am EST - “(Bloomberg) -- Rio Tinto Group is starting pilot production of lithium in California and will consider an expansion to become the top domestic supplier in the U.S. as the world's biggest miners look to boost their exposure to the…” - Finance.yahoo.com
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(Bloomberg) -- Rio Tinto Group is starting pilot production of lithium in California and will consider an expansion to become the top domestic supplier in the U.S. as the world’s biggest miners look to boost their exposure to the electric car battery revolution.
Work to reprocess waste piles from a 90-year-old mining site in Boron has successfully produced lithium carbonate -- needed in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles and consumer technology -- and efforts are now focused on improving quality and lifting volumes, Rio said Tuesday in an emailed statement.
Rio is the first top diversified miner to add lithium output to its portfolio and comes ahead of a looming decision on development of its mine project in Serbia that analysts estimate could account for about 5% of world demand. Demand for lithium will advance about eight-fold to 2030 as EV adoption increases and the battery sector expands, BloombergNEF said in a July report.
“If the trials continue to prove successful, this has the potential to become America’s largest domestic producer of battery-grade lithium -- all without the need for further mining,” Bold Baatar, chief executive officer of Rio’s energy and minerals division, said in the statement. Currently the only supplier in the U.S. is Albemarle Corp.’s Silver Peak operation in Nevada, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Rio, the world’s No. 2 miner, has held discussions on the EV sector with key companies in the supply chain and executives have visited China’s battery producer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. and electric automaker Tesla Inc., according to people familiar with the producer’s plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity as details of the talks are private. CATL declined to comment. Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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