Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) has kicked off lithium production from waste rock at a plant located at a borates mine it controls in California.
The demonstration facility is the next step in scaling up a breakthrough lithium production process developed at the Boron mine. The method allows Rio Tinto to recover the critical mineral and extract additional value out of waste piles from over 90 years of mining at the operation.
An initial small-scale trial in 2019 successfully proved the process of roasting and leaching waste rock to recover high grades of the metal, vital in the production of batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs) and most high tech electronics.
Rio’s discovery of lithium at Boron was a fluke. The miner was actually testing Boron’s tailings to see whether the presence of gold was significant and found instead traces of lithium at a concentration higher than domestic projects under development.
For the rest of this article: https://www.mining.com/rio-tinto-kicks-off-lithium-production-in-the-us/