Portugal is already the main European producer of lithium, but at the moment its production is used entirely for ceramics and glassware and not for the manufacture of electric batteries.
Portugal’s Environmental Protection Agency (APA) agreed on Wednesday, subject to conditions, to open the first lithium mine in the country, which has Europe’s first reserves of this important metal for battery manufacturing and energy transformation.
The largest lithium mine in Western Europe?
The British company Savannah Resources’ lithium mining project near Boticas in rural north-eastern Portugal has been awarded a “favorable Environmental Impact Statement, with several conditions attached,” ABA said in a press release. The Barroso mine project has been “significantly modified compared to the initial proposal,” the agency said, in order to “protect its environmental aspects (relating to the protection of waterways, biodiversity or waste management, among others)”.
For her part, Savannah welcomed this decision, stressing in a press release that it is the “first time” that the APA has issued a positive statement on the environmental impact of the lithium mine in Portugal. An “important milestone” has been reached for what could become the largest lithium mine in Western Europe. “This important decision now allows us to take the next step in the process of obtaining the environmental license,” the company added.
An international tender for lithium exploration in six regions of the country
In addition to the Savannah project in Boticas and the Portuguese Lusorecursos project in the neighboring municipality of Montalegre, which is less advanced, the Portuguese government launched an international call for bids a year ago for lithium exploration in six regions of the country. nation. Portugal is already the main European producer of lithium, but at present its entire production is used to make ceramics and glassware.
Along with cobalt or nickel, lithium is one of the primary metals in the manufacture of electric batteries that will replace the heat engines of cars that contribute to global warming. In order to reduce its dependence on imports, particularly towards China, the European Union is preparing to open mines and refineries to address this.