Portugal’s zeal to plough forwards with lithium exploration should see bidding open for concessions in nine mainland areas within the first three months of 2020.
Despite the level of opposition in many communities, Minister of Environment João Pedro Matos Fernandes says all that stands in the way now is the passing of a new law, which stipulates “a series of guarantees, mainly environmental”.
That law – already ‘in his hands’ in draft form – will be put to a vote in parliament when MPs return from their Christmas/ New Year break.
Says Matos Fernandes, lithium is “a great opportunity for Portugal” – particularly when it comes to the refining of this lightest of metals for the battery industry.
Already two sites for refineries have been mooted, and focus on the benefits of lithium exploration for ‘inland communities’ has been widely plugged.
But environmental groups are not so sure. Quercus particularly has sounded the alert over the “aggressive impacts” of lithium exploration (click here), stressing that the “Portugal doesn’t have the reserves of lithium that the government says it has”. Association ZERO has said that while it’s not totally against the exploration of lithium, it should not be countenanced for protected areas (click here).
For now, the parts of the country seemingly set aside for exploration are various points of the Serra de Arga, Covas de Barroso (Boticas), Barca d’Alva (Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo), Guarda, Mangualde and Segura (all within the borough of Idanha-a-Nova) and Morgade (Montalegre).