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Rio Tinto may become lithium giant after lucky tailings find

The miner was looking for gold in waste rock at its Boron site but found lithium instead

Rio Tinto plc - Rio Tinto may become US lithium giant after lucky find
The challenge is to how to extract it economically and achieve commercial scale production

Rio Tinto plc (LON:RIO, ASX:RIO) may become the largest US producer of battery-grade lithium carbonate if it finds an economic way to produce it from its Californian waste rock.

The miner was looking for gold in waste rock at its Boron site but had a “eureka moment” instead when tests revealed high grades of lithium.

READ: Rio Tinto iron ore production on the rebound

Now the FTSE 100 group's challenge is to how to extract it economically and achieve commercial scale production.

“The material being used has already been mined, so this will be a low energy option for the production of lithium,” said Bold Baatar, Rio's energy & minerals boss.

“It’s a great example of the innovative thinking we are encouraging, to look at extracting additional value from our tailings, look outside our traditional commodities and not be afraid to try new approaches.”

Rio shares were up 1% to 4,031.5p on Tuesday afternoon.

Quick facts: Rio Tinto plc

Price: 4145.5 GBX

LSE:RIO
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £69.89 billion
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