Why the Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) share price will be in focus today

The company’s shares could be on the move on Wednesday.

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Key Points

  • The Rio Tinto share price is on watch today amid news on the company’s Jadar lithium project
  • There’s been a delay in production following a slow approvals process
  • The final project go-ahead rests with the Serbian prime minister

The Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) share price will be on watch today following news on the company’s Jadar lithium project in Serbia.

In the past month, the company’s shares have risen almost 12% in value. In contrast, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) has pushed 1.43% higher over the same time frame.

At Tuesday’s closing bell, Rio Tinto shares finished the day down 0.35% to $109.65.

Rio Tinto pushes back production date for Jadar lithium project

On the back of the company’s latest update, investors are likely to send the Rio Tinto share price on the move.

According to multiple news sources, Rio Tinto has pushed back the timeline for first production from its Jadar lithium project.

The mine has been plagued by slow progress in obtaining the necessary licences for environmental assessment. It’s expected that the delay will result in the company producing lithium no earlier than 2027.

Rio Tinto noted that the revised schedule for Jadar was in response to concerns by Serbian stakeholders about the potential environmental impact. The claim is that the lithium mine, when in development, will pollute land and water affecting valuable farmland.

The Serbian prime minister has advised he will make a decision in April’s general election as to whether Rio Tinto can proceed.

This comes at a time where the mining giant is close to reaching a deal with traditional owners in Australia. The company destroyed an ancient aboriginal site in Western Australia as part of an iron ore exploration project.

If the Jadar project goes ahead, it will become the biggest lithium mine in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

The mine is predicted to have a 40-year life, producing 2.3 million tonnes of lithium carbonate per year.

Rio Tinto plans to invest $2.4 billion in the construction of the lithium mine.

Rio Tinto share price summary

Despite travelling 10% higher in 2022, it has been a disappointing 12 months for Rio Tinto shareholders. The company’s shares have lost around 8% in value driven by a lower production result across its commodities in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Based on valuation grounds, Rio Tinto has a market capitalisation of $40.70 billion and a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 13.98.

Motley Fool contributor Aaron Teboneras has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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