Portugal wants to hunt for lithium deposits
Portugal’s government said Friday it will launch an international tender for offers to prospect for lithium, a critical element in batteries for electrical vehicles.
ortugal’s government said Friday it will launch an international tender for offers to prospect for lithium, a critical element in batteries for electrical vehicles.
The southern European nation currently produces lithium for the ceramic and glass industries, but already has mining projects in the pipeline to meet the boom in demand as Europe phases out fossil fuel-powered cars by 2035.
Environment and Climate Action Minister, Joao Pedro Matos Fernandes, said prospecting would be opened in six sites, with five other potential deposits excluded for environmental reasons.
The tender for offers is expected to be launched within two months, while any mining projects that follow would likely take five years to develop.
Matos Fernandes said that one of the selection criteria would be a complete industrial plan.
“Not a gram of lithium will be processed outside of Portugal,” he said.
Europe is seeking to ramp up its capacity to build batteries and developing domestic lithium supplies would help reduce dependence on China, which currently controls more than 40 percent of world lithium production and almost 60 percent of refining capacity.
lans for a major lithium refining facility in northern Portugal were unveiled in December, but that project remains dependent upon a nearby mine receiving the green light from environmental regulators.
Lithium mining and refining can damage the environment and Serbian officials last month blocked a lithium mining project by Anglo-Australian mining firm Rio Tinto following weeks of protests.