Rio Tinto Eyes Canadian Lithium Production

Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm voiced the company’s interest in delving into lithium production in Canada. Although Rio Tinto is not currently engaged in lithium production, the chief executive emphasized the company’s keenness to establish a foothold in the lithium market, identifying it as a strategic move in anticipation of the future dominance of lithium in the battery sector over metals like nickel and cobalt.

Stausholm addressed attendees at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention, stressing the abundance of lithium globally but acknowledging the market’s volatility, with prices experiencing fluctuations due to various factors including supply increases and subdued demand, particularly from China.

“We would like to grow lithium, but what’s clear is that lithium is abundant in this world,” he said. “And, therefore, you have seen a very volatile [market]. Sometimes very high prices, and now prices have gone down so far.”

Lithium’s significance in the transition towards renewable energy, particularly in the manufacturing of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, has driven several mining companies to explore lithium projects in Canada. Currently, North American Lithium Inc., owned by Sayona Mining Ltd. and Piedmont Lithium Inc., stands as the major lithium producer in the country.

The pronouncement also comes on the heels of a rally for lithium amid growing demand and concerns about abundance of supply from producers.

Rio Tinto’s initial foray into Canada’s lithium exploration sector began in 2023 with agreements with Azimut Exploration Inc. and Midland Exploration Inc. These agreements, though preliminary, signify Rio Tinto’s strategic interest in evaluating lithium prospects in Canada, subject to fulfilling specific conditions outlined in the agreements.

Beyond its Canadian ventures, Rio Tinto is actively pursuing lithium projects in Argentina, Serbia, and the United States. However, lithium remains a relatively small segment of Rio Tinto’s operations compared to its focus on aluminum and iron ore businesses in Canada.

As Canada and the U.S. seek to diminish reliance on Chinese resources, Stausholm underscored the significance of aligning with nations sharing similar environmental goals while acknowledging China’s commitment to addressing climate change.

Information for this story was found via the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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