Australian company Infinity Lithium has signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Battery Alliance to promote its lithium mine project in San José, Extremadura. It would be the first lithium project to obtain European financing but has already raised the hackles of local environmentalists and residents.
From pv magazine Spain.
Australian minerals company Infinity Lithium has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and collaboration agreement with EU energy industry and research body EIT InnoEnergy to move forward with the miner’s planned San José Valdeflórez project in Spain.
Infinity Lithium was one of only two companies selected as candidates for funding by the business investment platform initiative launched by the European Battery Alliance (EBA). The alliance, which was founded in 2017 to establish a European battery cell manufacturing supply chain, has an industrial development program steered by EIT InnoEnergy.
Infinity published a pre-feasibility study for the production of lithium hydroxide in San José Valdeflorez and assessed lithium reserves in the third quarter of last year. The study predicted 30 years of profitable production of lithium hydroxide at what has been assessed as the second largest hard rock lithium resource in the EU.
Infinity Lithium and EIT InnoEnergy have agreed to advance the necessary paperwork and close binding contracts through an investment, support and assistance package at various stages of the project’s development. Completion of the formal agreement envisaged by the MoU could take several weeks.
Under the memorandum, both parties would commit to a capital investment for technical testing and, potentially, construction of a pilot plant to process the lithium hydroxide. EIT InnoEnergy will also commit to purchase some of the lithium hydroxide output, presumably on behalf of some of the 400 members of the EBA network; to help speed up project deadlines; and to provide finance for the project; as well as helping with positive PR for a scheme which has already alarmed environmentalists and neighboring communities.
“EIT InnoEnergy strives to promote and complete the Infinity Lithium project in Spain to support the development of a supply chain of sustainable and European lithium-ion batteries,” said Diego Pavía, CEO of the research organization. “Our support will drive the project towards its final phase and will allow European customers, including battery and car manufacturers, to obtain lithium chemical derivatives in the EU.”
However, the project partners still have to win over the Junta de Extremadura authority, which is yet to grant the research permits requested by Infinity Lithium unit Tecnología Extremeña del Litio and Madrid-based construction company Sacyr. Should the local authority declare the Sierra de la Mosca which encompasses the lithium deposits a protected landscape, all bets could be off.
Lobby group Plataforma Salvemos la Montaña de Cáceres – Platform for Saving Cáceres Mountain – has sent pv magazine an open letter it wrote to Maros Sefcovic, European Commission VP for inter-institutional relations and welfare, opposing the mine plan. The group says the proposed project is 800m from the town of Cáceres whose General Municipal Plan for Urban Planning strictly prohibits the establishment of industries, including extractive ones, within 2km.
On that basis, the group told Sefcovic, the €800,000 granted the company promoting the mine project amounted to money poured down the drain.
Raw material sourcing
pv magazine spent the first quarter looking at raw material sourcing in batteries as part of its UP initiative. Fair lithium in Chile, ethical strategies for cobalt supply and zero-waste batteries all featured in our coverage. Read more, stay tuned and get involved!