Rio Tinto has been the earliest to report its 1H21 results, revealing a 156% jump in underlying earnings to US$12.2 billion.
But looking beyond iron ore, there is a dominant theme of investing in the production of climate change focused materials.
ASX 200 mining giants, more than just iron ore
On 27 July, Rio Tinto said it will spend $2.4 billion building a lithium-borates mine in Serbia.
According to the company’s half-year results, construction for the major project is expected to commence in 2022, subject to the award of final permits and approvals.
If things go to plan, Rio Tinto could be making its first saleable production by 2026.
From there, the company aims to ramp up production to ~58,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate, alongside 160,000 tonnes of boric acid and 255,000 tonnes of sodium sulphate per annum.
Rio Tinto believes that this will position the company as a top-10 lithium producer globally and potentially the largest source of lithium supply in Europe for the next 15 years.
Fortescue on the other hand has shifted its attention to green hydrogen.
More recently, Fortescue entered into a framework agreement to explore opportunities to develop a green hydrogen project in India.
A broader objective for Fortescue Future Industries, the renewable green energy arm of Fortescue, is to “produce 15 million tonnes per annum of green hydrogen by 2030”.
In addition, BHP has invested US$2,972 million into the development of a potash project in Canada.
Potash is widely used as a plant fertiliser, allowing plants to become more drought resistant. Which could play into the environmental theme, especially in areas where rainwater is scarce.