Lithium: government creates working group to study just how good it could get

With lithium the current flavour of the month (click here), the government has created a working group to “identify and characterise the existence of deposits in Portugal and potential economic activities associated with their exploitation”.

Secretary of State for Energy Jorge Seguro Sanches says final conclusions should be completed by March 31 next year.

Jornal de Negocios writes that the group is being put together “at the same moment” that Australian company Dakota Minerals “has discovered large amounts of lithium in the north of the country” and is getting ready to start production in two years time.

The time-scale coincides with the opening in Europe of various factories manufacturing ion-lithium batteries, he said, “and the conclusion of the expansion of capacity in current factories”.

Sanches stopped short of mentioning the name Tesla, or revealing whether or not this lithium-focused manufacturer has indeed decided to site its next giga-factory in Portugal – but it is common knowledge that Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has been “sitting round the negotiating table” with prime minister António Costa, so fingers are clearly tightly crossed.

Sanches’ only clue as to what is behind the working group is that he wants to put some “power” into discovering Portugal’s true potential in the face of “growing interest” from mineral companies from all over the world.

The study will be coordinated by deputy director general of the department of energy and geology Cristina Vieira Lourenço, in conjunction with representatives from the national laboratory of energy and geology, mining company EDM, the national association for the industry of extraction and transformation and the Portuguese association of marble and granite industries.

The government will also be looking into “evaluating the possibility of producing lithium metal”, said Sanches, bearing in mind that up until now the mineral has only been used for the ceramic industry, in its most basic form.

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