Wednesday, October 26, 2022

FT: Europe faces critical shortage of metals needed for clean energy

 The Financial Times writes: 

Europe faces a critical shortage of clean-energy metals and needs to decide urgently how it will bridge the looming supply gap or risk new dependencies on unsustainable producers. 

 That is the conclusion of a new study commissioned by Eurometaux, an industry group that represents some of the region’s biggest metal producers, including Glencore and Rio Tinto.

  The report, written by Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, marks the first attempt to provide some EU-specific numbers around last year’s warning from the International Energy Agency of supply challenges owing to the amount of metals needed for batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. 

 It comes as the EU, which is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, looks to reduce its dependence on imported Russian energy and make a quicker switch to renewable energy.

 “There is a risk . . . with the geopolitical developments we are seeing round the world that Europe . . . will not have the metal for its climate programme,” said Mikael Staffas, president of Eurometaux and chief executive of Boliden, one of Europe’s biggest metals and mining companies. He was speaking before the launch of the study in Brussels.

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Lithium: Imerys will exploit lithium mine in France

 World leader in industrial minerals Imerys announced monday 24 october that in the french town of Echassières, writes Le Monde

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On Monday, October 24, the Imerys group, the world leader in industrial specialty minerals, announced the launch of a major lithium mining project in Echassières (central France). Since the end of the 19th century, this open-pit mine – named "de Beauvoir" after the former operating company and located on the edge of the Colettes forest on the border between the Allier and Puy-de-Dôme departments – has produced 25,000 to 30,000 tons of kaolin for ceramics every year.

Studies and core sampling predict the presence at a great depth of high concentrations of lithium hydroxide, a total of 1 million tonnes containing between 0.9% and 1% of oxide, confirming the estimates of the French Geological and Mining Research Bureau (BRGM). This deposit will enable 34,000 tons to be extracted over 25 years, making Imerys a leading supplier to the European market, with a capacity to equip 700,000 vehicles per year with lithium-ion batteries.

In addition to the studies already carried out for €30 million, the project will require a minimum investment of €1 billion, based on an estimated lithium production cost of €7-9 euros/kilo. Imerys considers this "very competitive, particularly on the European market, and sufficient to guarantee a return on investment in line with group guidelines."

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