Rio Tinto has started making spodumene concentrate, a mineral mined for its lithium content, at a plant in Quebec as the mining giant doubles down on production of the electric-vehicle battery metal.
“We are seeing strong interest in the market for a North American supply of spodumene concentrate to support production of lithium batteries,” Stéphane Leblanc, managing director of Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium, said.
The Quebec plant was commissioned in June and produced its first ton of spodumene concentrate in July, according to the company.
Rio Tinto’s lithium ventures have been in focus since its $2.4 billion Jadar project in Serbia was blocked earlier this year following protests sparked by environmental concerns about a planned mine.
In December last year, the company acquired Rincon Mining for $825 million to develop a large lithium brine project in the heart of Argentina’s “lithium triangle”.
(By Ankit Kumar and Ruhi Soni; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)