One of Europe’s largest lithium mines is set to be opened in Central France by 2027. The plan is to produce 34,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year from 2028, enough to equip 700,000 electric vehicles annually.
Industrial metals firm Imerys has confirmed that there are sufficient concentrations and quantities of lithium at a site in the central Allier region. The billion euro project will mine lithium underground to limit environmental damage on the surface and meet responsible mining standards.
Why it matters
A majority of car manufacturers are planning to feature all-electric lineups within the next decade, and Europe has set itself the goal of completely phasing out the sale of internal combustion cars by 2035. One of the key bottlenecks, however, is the availability of lithium. Sydney-based financial services firm Barrenjoey forecasts lithium carbonate prices of USD 63,000/t for 2023, a whopping 57-fold increase on its previous forecast.
The French metal and mining firm Imerys said the project will “increase Europe’s industrial sovereignty at a time when car and battery manufacturers are heavily dependent on imported lithium, which is a key element in the energy transition.”
The EUR 1 billion project aims to counteract common criticisms of lithium mining projects. Chief among them is the idea that the environmental damage from cars is simply shifted from the tailpipe to the lithium mines and the transportation of raw materials. Imerys aims to reduce CO2 emissions in lithium production by half compared with existing operations by using an electric mining fleet, low-carbon transportation options and low-carbon electricity.