EU initiative for lithium projects boosts Infinity
Infinity Lithium’s San José project in Spain could be the beneficiary of the European Union’s recent recognition that access to raw materials has become essential for ensuring the supply of lithium chemicals for its emerging automotive industry.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic told the European Investment Bank board of director’s meeting that with China looking to challenge Europe in its areas of leadership such as the automotive sector, sectors that are strategic for Europe would need to be prioritised.
“Without undertaking its own exploration, the EU will have no mining projects. This, in turn, means no refineries and, without refining capacity, the EU will continue to be in great part dependent on foreign supplies of high-quality materials,” he said.
“We have identified with the Member States that there are 10 potential mining projects for lithium that, if developed, could allow the EU to move from 1% to 30% of the world production by 2030.”
“The US, Canada, Australia are investing massively in this segment of the value chain. And China is acquiring companies single-handedly around the globe.”
“We therefore need our European Investment Bank to become more fully engaged in raw material projects in exploration, mining and refining – and linking it up with the circular economy (with secondary raw materials), where our competitive advantage lies.”
“The idea is to develop a portfolio of projects, which, by their nature, are risky – and have a longer return on investment.”
Mr Sefcovic also highlighted the European Battery Alliance’s, or “EBA”, role in driving development of Europe’s lithium battery industry as well as the European Investment Bank’s, or “EIB” provision of a €350 million senior debt facility for Northvolt’s lithium-ion battery and cathode production plant in Sweden, the first gigafactory in Europe.
European demand for lithium-ion batteries could hit 400GWh in 2025 and plans are in place for the construction of between 15 and 25 gigafactories in the region to meet this demand.
Infinity Lithium’s San José project in Spain has the EU’s second largest JORC-compliant mineral resource of 111.3 million tonnes grading 0.61% lithium oxide and 206 parts per million tin.
The EBA is due to meet with Infinity this month as the company nears completion of the pre-feasibility study for the project.
Management said the support of the EBA could help progress funding opportunities with the EIB for San José.
Infinity is planning an integrated project at San José, where it will mine, process and refine lithium chemicals on-site in Spain.
Whilst its raw lithium product is contained within comparatively lower grade “mica” mineralisation, a commercial gas pipeline that runs past the project’s front door provides the company with a ready source of energy to roast the ores, from which it can make the valuable, refined lithium hydroxide products.
The EU is not alone in identifying the need to secure lithium raw materials.
Tech visionary Elon Musk might well be strapping on a hard hat with the Tesla founder flagging that the company might enter into the mining business to ensure that it can make enough batteries for future electric vehicles.
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