Project Relocation and Investment Plans
Glencore has announced the relocation of its Li Demo pilot plant project, initially planned for Portovesme, due to prolonged permit processing times. The €5 million project, aimed at producing lithium carbonate and mixed metal oxides for electric vehicle batteries, is now likely to be established in Germany, with Spain, Canada, and the US also under consideration. This move is a precursor to a larger investment exceeding €500 million, intended to create a significant hub in Europe for lithium production.
Issues with Permitting Process
The decision comes after delays in the authorization process that began in the spring, with the region failing to respond promptly. The Ministry’s involvement led to further delays, and by October, the project was subjected to an Environmental Impact Assessment, sparking criticism from Confindustria Sardegna Meridionale and calls for intervention from government ministers. The lack of clear timelines and responses from authorities ultimately led Glencore to relocate the project.
Union Reactions and Regional Criticism
Unions have expressed disappointment, citing the loss of an opportunity for the region. They criticize the regional authorities for the excessive procedural delays and the absence of certain timeframes, which are crucial for business operations. The unions also highlight that the project’s transfer will not be to countries with lax environmental laws but to one with regulations similar to Italy’s.
Impact of the Decision
The shift is expected to result in the loss of 27,000 work hours for the construction of the plant and around 30 potential job opportunities. There is a noted irony in the fact that the plant will utilize the expertise and possibly even the technicians from Portovesme. The unions also remind of unresolved issues regarding high energy costs for industrial companies and urge the government to promptly address the Glencore Portovesme dispute at a national level.