German Geologist: Lithium Exploitation in Serbia of Great Importance for Independence of Europe from China

Source: Beta Thursday, 27.04.2023. 13:53
(Photo: Shutterstock/Kamzara)
Michael Schmidt, Senior Analyst at the German Mineral Resources Agency (DERA), said that there were over 15 lithium exploitation projects in Europe in various stages of development at that moment.

He specified for Demostat that the projects were located in Spain, Portugal, Finland, France, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and other countries.

As Demostat writes, the goal of the EU is clear – it is necessary to reduce the dependence of Europe on China when it comes to the key raw material for batteries.

In order for this to be achieved, Europe has to exploit its own lithium sites, which are present in several states. Among others, the candidates include Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Portugal, but the EU is also counting on Serbia, Demostat writes.

Europe has the potential to extract and process a part of the necessary lithium, but, according to Demostat, the EU is aware that, in order for that to happen, obstacles need to be overcome, primarily the protests of the local populace and the long procedures for the approval of projects, and high environmental standards need to be fulfilled as well.

Schmidt said that Europe had the potential to have a lithium supply from its sites to a considerable extent, up to as much as 40% of the projected demand, in 2030.

When it comes to Germany, Schmidt said that he saw the biggest potential for the excavation of lithium in the sites of hard rocks on the border between that country and the Czech Republic, in the area of the Ore Mountains, as well as in the valley of the Upper Rhine, where lithium is located in the salt water.

He said that, due to numerous unknown aspects, it was difficult to specify the year when the exploitation of lithium in Germany might start.

Talking about Serbia, Schmidt said that it had unique and large sites of lithium and boron.

He added that the Jadar project, previously developed by Rio Tinto, as he said, was among the biggest hard-rock sites in Europe.

– This project and the products generated there could be of essential significance for the European supply scheme from the aspect of independence from China – Schmidt pointed out.

He added that the project could incite the development of a processing industry in a wider area around the site.

– The same applies to the Euro lithium project near Valjevo – he said.

When asked whether there was an ecologically acceptable way of exploiting lithium, Schmidt said that there were many ways to implement sustainable mining and mining operations. As he said, it is a “mega-trend” when it comes to many projects and locations where the ore is exploited worldwide.

In order to ensure this, he added, regulatory frameworks are instilled, as well as mining standards.

He said that “lithium is needed for a green transition”, so, as he said, it is of essential importance for the mining of these materials to be as sustainable as possible.

– This is demanded by both the purchasers and the industry. Ecological and social licensing are becoming increasingly important – he said.

He added that it needed to be understood that mining would always affect the environment.

– So, there have to be strict regulatory and environmental frameworks in order to ensure that – Schmidt pointed out.

When asked when an ecologically acceptable exploitation of lithium could be expected, Schmidt said that the process had begun and that it would be implemented at an increasing rate.

– It will be an obligation for the governments, for the industries, as well as for the end-consumers – Schmidt said.

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