Rio Tinto moves big Jadar lithium and boron deposit in Serbia to the front burner – by Matt Chambers (The Australian – July 25, 2017)

Rio Tinto has upgraded the status of the big Jadar lithium and boron deposit in Serbia to that of its most likely growth project, revealing that if it gets approvals and the economics support it, it will start construction in 2020 and reach first production in 2023.

The announcement, made in Serbia on Monday night, makes Jadar (a potential top-three global lithium producer) the only unapproved medium-term growth project in Rio’s portfolio.

The supply it could bring to the market may be a concern for Australian lithium producers and hopefuls, whose shares have been running hot lately on expected growth in demand for lithium-ion batteries as intermittent renewable power and electric cars take more market share.

On Monday in Serbia, Rio signed a memorandum of understanding with the government to progress Jadar, 140km west of Belgrade, through the approvals process. “Rio Tinto is expected to make its final investment decision and start construction in 2020,” the miner said.

“First production, based on a new processing technology of Jadarite that the company has developed, is expected to commence in 2023, assuming that feasibility studies confirm viability and all necessary approvals are obtained.”

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