The project to be developed by Savannah includes the exploration of litiniferous pegmatites for the production of spodumene concentrate.
Portugal has the largest lithium reserves in Europe and the eighth largest in the world). The Government does not tire of remembering it. But it must be said that these reserves are estimates and not real reserves.
“We usually say that it is the fifth place, the sixth place, the eighth place… That is exactly the same as nothing. You only know the place when you start the production (of lithium),” says Carlos Leal Gomes, a professor at the University de Minho, a lithium expert.
The largest lithium mine in Western Europe
For Covas do Barroso, a village in northern Portugal, there is a project for what could become the largest lithium mine in Western Europe. The project to be developed by Savannah includes the exploration of litiniferous pegmatites for the production of spodumene concentrate.
“We will produce about 25,000 tons of lithium hydroxide, enough material to make enough battery packs for about 500,000 new electric vehicles each year,” explains Dale Ferguson, Savannah’s interim CEO.
“These numbers at this stage are indicative numbers. (…) Because the calculated proven reserves are very few. As a possible mine for the production of lithium concentrates, it is nothing extraordinary, not even in terms of the number of reserves, nor in minerals, especially in the minerals it has. The minerals are not the best there are. It will require a lot of work in technical and technological terms,” says Carlos Leal Gomes, a professor at the University of Minho, an expert in lithium.
“Our view is completely the opposite. We spent many millions of dollars doing all the testing work and we can confirm through all that work and through the last 30 to 40 years of development around spodumene that it can be removed from the rock very effectively. It’s a very simple process,” says Dale Ferguson, Savannah’s interim CEO.
The population of Covas do Barroso is not convinced
What will undoubtedly be very difficult is for the population of Covas do Barroso to accept the project. The Portuguese Environment Agency has issued (on May 31) a favorable environmental impact assessment, with some conditions that Savannah must meet, but the population is not convinced.
“We do not understand how to decontaminate (produce lithium for electric vehicles) we have to destroy the forests, destroy the environment, destroy water courses, destroy the lives of the populations that live here,” says Nelson Gomes, president of the Association United in Defense of Covas do Barroso.
“The Association United in Defense of Covas do Barroso says the battle is not over yet and vows to go to court to stop this mine,” Filipa Soares, Covas do Barroso, Euronews.