lithium is currently extracted in Portugal "in association with quartz and feldspar and is only used in the melting process of ceramic pastes".
Portugal has no lithium mines today, but the metal is extracted in mines in association with quartz and feldspar, is used in the ceramics industry, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action told Lusa on Wednesday.
The ministry’s official source led by Matos Fernandes explained that “there is no exploitation of lithium in Portugal, what exists are exploration concession contracts where lithium is listed as a substance that can be exploited following a previous environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure, as in the cases of the Barroso Mine in Boticas (Vila Real), and Romano in Montalegre (also in the district of Vila Real).
However, lithium is currently extracted in Portugal “in association with quartz and feldspar and is only used in the melting process of ceramic pastes, to lower the melting point, thus reducing energy consumption”.
Interest in Portuguese lithium started in 2016, the year in which 30 new requests for exploration and research were received. Recently several environmental associations, city councils and the population have expressed their opposition to the exploration and exploitation of lithium, with the Government defending, on the other hand, that this resource is essential for the energy transition.
According to the Mining Bulletin – Special Edition Lithium 2017-18, “Portugal is the EU Country with the largest lithium reserves, being concentrated in the northern and central areas, especially in the territory where granites abound”.
Worldwide, the large lithium reserves are located in the USA, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China and Brazil.
Lithium, the lightest of the metals, has increasing importance in the world economy, due to its role in the ongoing energy transition process, namely in electric mobility and energy storage.
Among the main characteristics of lithium is its electrical conductivity, being the most electronegative metal and providing high mechanical resistance and resistance to thermal shock in ceramics and glass.
As such, it is used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, in metallic alloys, production of lubricants for machines that work under high temperatures, manufacture of heat resistant ceramics and glass.
“The importance of lithium made the value rise about two years ago, when the price more than tripled, from seven to 27 dollars due to the decarbonization plan of China. The production of electric cars grew 200% in one year, which caused demand for lithium compounds to exceed supply, causing the price of lithium mineral deposits to rise,” reads the Mining Bulletin, published by the General Directorate of Energy and Geology.