Lithium
Image credit: Rio Tinto

Research and development by Rio Tinto’s Technical Development Centre in Bundoora, an outer suburb of Melbourne, Australia, is paving the way for a unique new mineral with the potential to supply a significant portion of global demand for lithium and borates.

Rio Tinto’s Technical Development Centre, in collaboration with the company’s team of global experts, is developing a new chemical procedure to process Jadarite – a mineral discovered in 2004 with concentrations of lithium and boron, known only to occur at Jadar in Serbia.

Lithium is used to produce batteries for electric vehicles and mobile phones, while borates are essential components for heat-resistant glass, fibreglass and smartphone screens.

The Bundoora Technical Development Centre, only 16 km from Rio Tinto's headquarters Melbourne, is using ground-breaking method to reduce Jadarite to its component parts and, with demand for lithium rising globally, the project has the potential to make a significant contribution to human progress across the globe.

Rio Tinto's group executive for growth and innovation, Stephen McIntosh, describes Rio Tinto's Bundoora site as having an essential role in its global business.

“Our Bundoora Technical Development Centre was established more than 25 years ago. It has a proud history of applying innovative thinking to help us to maximise value in our business,” says McIntosh.

“The centre is actively involved in applying technical expertise to improve how we find, study, build, optimise and close our operations.”

Victoria, in south east Australia, has a multibillion-dollar mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector ranging from cutting-edge machinery manufacturers to engineering consultancies.

Demonstrating that Victoria's METS companies are supporting the delivery of global mining solutions, Rio Tinto has built a pilot processing plant within a large shipping container to be relocated to the Serbian mine site should the project proceed to production.

Victorian companies have provided services to enable the running of the plant, analysis of results as well as the onsite assembly.

The International Mining and Resources Conference, or IMARC, currently taking place in Melbourn, presents opportunities for global mining projects to connect with innovative Australian METS companies as a means to potentially driving new trade and investment.