Portugal’s environmental regulators have given a positive recommendation on Savannah Resources’ proposed Barroso lithium mine that will produce enough of the metal to supply 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) annually, the company says.
The three-year review placed several conditions on the project, such as removing vegetation only during specific times of the year.
The proposal was widely seen as a test of European governments’ willingness to soften its opposition to mining projects in light of pending global lithium shortages outside of China, which controls most of the world’s lithium processing.
United in Defense of Covas do Barroso, an opposition group, said it “condemns” the decision and is “baffled” by the approval because the project’s environmental and socioeconomic impacts will be “devastating.”
The environmental green light allows Savannah to move ahead with economic studies and apply for an operating license, a step expected within the next 12 months.
Savannah expects the mine to begin production in 2026, ultimately delivering 200,000 tons of lithium ore a year to a processing plant the company hopes will be built in Portugal.
China now processes 56 percent of the world’s lithium, with Chile handling most of the rest. A consortium of Portuguese and Swedish companies is working to open a refining plant in Europe.
In 2022, the Serbian government yanked mining giant Rio Tinto’s approval for what would have been Europe’s largest lithium mine after months of relentless public protests.
Vulcan, a new lithium enterprise, announced it will supply one of Stellantis’s car assembly plants with geothermal energy. Vulcan hopes to harvest lithium from the hot water flowing out of the Earth.
TREND FORECAST: While there are no public protests in Portugal following the announcement, they may begin to escalate as they did in Serbia where protesters stopped lithium production.
- “SPOTLIGHT: INFLATION” (21 Dec 2021)
- “ENVIRONMENTAL PROTESTERS WIN SERBIA: TREND TRACKING LESSON” (25 Jan 2022)
- “SPOTLIGHT: INFLATION” (1 Feb 2022)