The Slovakian battery company InoBat wants to build a value chain for the production and recycling of electric car batteries in Serbia together with the mining group Rio Tinto. However, one important point is still open: The investment decision in the mine in Serbia.
The partnership is to cover the entire life cycle from raw materials to the recycling of lithium, according to Rio Tinto. At its core, Rio Tinto’s Jadar project in Serbia is apparently to be used. According to the mining company, this is one of the largest lithium projects currently under development “on a greenfield site” – i.e. in largely untouched nature. It should be possible to produce up to 55,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate there. Jadar is located southwest of Belgrade in the border region to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
InoBat not only wants to increase its production with the Gigafactory in Slovakia and secure it with regional primary products. “The signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Rio Tinto represents an important step in achieving InoBat’s goal to utilise a European-based value chain and support European bid for technological independence,” says InoBat CEO Marian Bocek.
The planned collaboration will also – according to Bocek, in line with the company’s “cradle to cradle” approach – establish a circular economy for batteries. However, details on the recycling, capacities and processes used are not mentioned in the statement.
“This collaboration with InoBat will enable an important exchange of knowledge and information on lithium processing, recycling and technologies for the next generation of batteries,” says Marnie Finlayson, managing director of Rio Tinto’s Borat and Lithium business.
There is a simple reason why it is only a declaration of intent so far: Rio Tinto has not yet decided to build the planned plant at all. Last year, the company invested around 200 million dollars in the final phase of the study for the project. This is expected to be completed in 2021.
An investment decision will then be made on this basis. If the plant is then also approved, the construction of the mine would take up to four years, according to Rio Tinto. “The scale and high grade nature of the Jadar deposit provides the potential for a mine to supply lithium products into the electric vehicle value chain for decades,” the company wrote.