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Rio Tinto has not given up on $2.4 bln Serbian lithium project

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SYDNEY — Rio Tinto Ltd Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said on Thursday that the miner has not given up on its Jadar lithium project in Serbia, after the country’s prime minister ruled out a way forward for the project.

“We haven’t got it right yet on Jadar. But the reality is it’s an amazing asset. The world needs it, Serbia needs it,” Stausholm told an investor briefing in Sydney.

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“We need to figure out how to go about it. The only thing I would say today is we haven’t given up.”

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Tuesday she does not see a chance of reviving Rio’s $2.4 billion lithium project for which licenses were revoked in January after protests over environmental concerns about the planned mine.

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The company committed to the project last year as global miners pushed into the metals needed for the green energy transition, including lithium, which is used to make electric vehicle batteries.

Rio said in July it was “exploring all options” at Jadar as it sought to address community concerns.

Stausholm also told investors on Thursday that the government of Canada was “very excited,” to develop critical minerals, which are important in technology and include copper, lithium, nickel and rare earths.

Rio Tinto started production of scandium oxide, used to strengthen aluminum in industries like aviation, at its Rio Tinto Fer et Titane operations in Quebec in May. (Reporting by Praveen Menon in Sydney; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)

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