Global mining company Rio Tinto has earmarked $350m for its Rincon lithium project in Argentina, Reuters reported.

The move underscores the company’s commitment to commencing production by the end of the year.

This development comes after Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm recently visited the site, highlighting the strategic importance of the investment.

Stausholm was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The hard work of our Rincon team is laying the groundwork for our first lithium production by year’s end.”

In 2022, Rio Tinto acquired the Rincon project from Rincon Mining for $825m, and looks to establish a battery-grade lithium carbonate plant capable of producing 3,000 tonnes annually.

Rio Tinto is making a notable pivot by investing in lithium, a critical component for electric vehicle batteries, according to the news agency.

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This decision contrasts with other major mining companies such as BHP, which have refrained from entering the lithium market.

Argentina is considered an important player in the “lithium triangle,” which also includes Chile and Bolivia.

The region is said to be home to half of the world’s lithium resources, making it a hot spot for international investment in lithium mining.

Rio Tinto’s investment is a testament to Argentina’s growing significance in the global push for electric vehicle production and renewable energy storage solutions.

Meanwhile, in January this year, it was reported that Rio Tinto intends to start the $20bn Simandou mining project in Guinea after an almost 27-year delay.

This project, hindered by various challenges including legal hurdles and corruption charges, covers iron ore extraction, rail and port development.