Portugal has overcome an important hurdle toward opening Europe’s largest lithium mine. The Barroso Lithium Project in the north of the country has had its environmental impact assessment approved by the regulatory authority APA, subject to certain conditions. The responsible mining company Savannah is pleased with this positive decision and is already announcing the next steps. The aim is to mine lithium for 500,000 car batteries in the mine once a year.
This is the first approval for such a lithium project in Portugal. There is immense resistance from environmental protection organizations and local associations who believe the decision represents a black day. Savannah, on the other hand, believes that the decision from the Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente has given them the final details for the technical framework of the mining project. The remaining work on the design will now be carried out to prepare the last applications. A first application for the establishment of the mine was rejected in 2022.
Lithium is a key raw material for electromobility, and almost all of the world’s lithium production is concentrated in Australia, Chile, China and Argentina. Mining projects like the one planned in Portugal could help meet the growing demand for lithium. The European Union has previously been criticized for its reliance on imports for the use of raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, and rare earths.
The APA’s approval of the environmental impact assessment is subject to certain conditions. No water may be taken from the nearby Covas River, a new access road must be built, and nearby communities should be financially supported. While Savannah is happy about the positive decision, environmental protection organisations and local associations remain concerned with preserving a world agricultural heritage.