In a presentation to investors, Rio Tinto’s head of economics Vivek Tulpule stated EV gross sales are on monitor to hit as much as 55% of the world’s whole gentle automobiles gross sales as early as 2030, reaching about 65 million items.
This implies producers would wish about three million tonnes of lithium, in contrast with the roughly 350,000 tonnes they devour right this moment, Tulpule famous.
Current operations and tasks mixed, nonetheless, are slated to contribute a million tonnes of lithium, he stated.
Rio Tinto estimates that dedicated provide and capability expansions will contribute about 15% to demand progress over the 2020-2050 interval. The remaining 85% would wish to return from new tasks.
“Filling the provide hole would require over 60 Jadar tasks,” he warned.
Jadar, positioned in western Serbia, would produce sufficient lithium to energy a million electrical automobiles, Rio has said. It’s going to additionally produce boric acid, utilized in ceramics and batteries, and sodium sulphate, utilized in detergents.
Mine development is predicted to start early subsequent yr, topic to environmental approvals, with the primary manufacturing in 2026. Following ramp as much as full manufacturing in 2029, the Jadar mine will produce 58,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate, 160,000 tonnes of boric acid and 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulphate a yr.
The firm anticipates that recycling will tackle an even bigger position within the coming years however will solely start to make a related contribution after 2040 as automobiles which are at the moment being bought are scrapped.
Rio Tinto believes lithium-ion batteries would be the most popular storage expertise for EVs, in addition to vital contributors to the setting of a renewable grid.
“Anticipated future improvement of solid-state batteries with improved power density and security efficiency might present additional upside, by growing lithium depth per kilowatt by over 30%,” Tulpule stated.
Over the previous 5 years, the miner has tried to broaden its footprint in the battery market. In 2018, Rio reportedly attempted to buy a $5B stake in Chile’s Chemical and Mining Society (SQM), the world’s second largest lithium producer.
In April this yr, it kicked off lithium production from waste rock at a demonstration plant positioned at a borates mine it controls in California.
Rio invested $10 million to construct the pilot plant that can have the ability to produce 10 tonnes a yr of lithium-carbonate. By the top of the yr, and primarily based on the trial’s outcomes, it’ll determine whether or not or not to spend an additional $50 million in an industrial-scale plant with annual capability of 5,000 tonnes a yr — sufficient for round 15,000 Tesla Mannequin S batteries.
The projected manufacturing can be roughly the identical because the capability of Albemarle ’s Silver Peak mine in Nevada, which is at the moment the one lithium-carbonate producing asset within the nation, in accordance with the US Geological Survey.