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Rio Tinto looks beyond traditional resources as China slows

London - The move comes as the economy of China, its largest buyer of traditional resources, is expected to slow further over the long run.

London - Anglo-Australian resource major Rio Tinto, which focuses on traditional commodities like iron ore, has started to seek out new materials that will be more in demand in the next decades, the company’s chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques told the Nikkei Asian Review. The move comes as the economy of China, its largest buyer of traditional resources, is expected to slow further over the long run. Last year, 43% of Rio Tinto’s revenue came from sales to Chinese customers. In an interview in Tokyo on Nov. 17, Jacques said the most important thing for Rio Tinto is “to think what materials and what resources society will need in 10 to 15 years and how can we position ourselves.”
With this aim, the company has created Rio Tinto Ventures, an internal unit that “has a mandate to look at new opportunities and search new materials.” He raised lithium as an example. Demand for lithium is expected to soar as the demand for electric vehicles spreads, as it is a key material in EV batteries. In July, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Serbian government over development of a lithium-related project in the Eastern European country. Read more .

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