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Sinead Kaufman.

Planned lithium production will fail to meet growth in demand for lithium-ion batteries that are needed to meet global climate goals, according to Rio Tinto’s minerals chief.

Lithium consumption needed “to surge way above anything that’s planned to be mined,” Sinead Kaufman told the Battery Gigafactories Asia Pacific conference in Perth this week.

She said Rio was investing more capital in developing lithium and other battery metals, and was turning to waste from defunct mines to recover the minerals, Bloomberg reports.

The world’s second-biggest miner also wanted to grow its copper business beyond planned projects in Mongolia and the US.

“Customers are demanding environmentally sound mining practices, forcing miners to decarbonise their operations,” she said.

“We’ve got to decarbonise our own business, because producing material for the green transition can’t be done the way it was done previously.”