Rio Tinto has announced it will support the development of a battery ecosystem in Europe with an investment in Inobat Auto (InoBat), a European-based battery technology and manufacturing company.
The mining company said the investment would support InoBat's research and development centre and pilot battery in Voderady, Slovakia. The announcement follows on from a memorandum of understanding signed in May.
Additionally, Rio Tinto said the agreement would boost its $2.4 billion Jader lithium-borates project, one of the most significant greenfield lithium projects in development, with the potential to produce approximately 58,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate annually.
Rio Tinto's battery materials business managing director Marine Finlayson said the company was looking forward to benefitting from a "broader perspective of the battery materials sector, as well as insights into future chemistries and technologies."
"Our Jadar lithium project in Serbia is on the doorstep of the European electric vehicle market," Finlayson said.
"Capable of producing enough lithium to make around one million electric vehicle batteries a year to the highest environmental standards,2 we believe Jadar will be a critical supplier of the European battery ecosystem and, through our investment in InoBat, we hope that we can assist in making some of those batteries locally."
Marian Bocek, chief executive officer of InoBat, said the company's target was to "provide solutions across the entire value chain" and "support Europe's bid for technological independence."
"Side-by-side with Rio Tinto, we are looking forward to further developing our manufacturing capacities and working closely on the downstream development of a battery ecosystem with common decarbonisation efforts at its core," Bocek said.