The deal was completed after clearance from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).
In December 2021, Rio Tinto signed a binding agreement to purchase Rincon, an undeveloped lithium brine project in the lithium triangle in the Salta Province.
With a reduced carbon footprint, the Rinco project is anticipated to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.
Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said: “Rincon strengthens our battery materials business and positions Rio Tinto to meet the double-digit growth in demand for lithium over the next decade, at a time when supply is constrained.
“We will be working with local communities, the Province of Salta and the Government of Argentina as we develop this project to the highest ESG standards.”
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The direct lithium extraction technology recommended for the project is expected to have the ability to significantly boost lithium recoveries compared to solar evaporation ponds.
A pilot plant is currently operating at the site. Further work is planned to accelerate the process and recoveries.
Earlier this month, Rio Tinto made a $2.7bn offer to acquire the remaining interest in Canadian mining company Turquoise Hill.
At present, Rio Tinto has a 50.8% interest in Turquoise Hill, which has a 66% stake in the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia.