LISBON, Nov 27 (Reuters) – Portuguese mining company Lusorecursos said on Wednesday it was negotiating a 400 million euro funding deal with several international players as it gears up to explore for lithium in the country’s northern region.
Portugal is Europe’s biggest lithium producer, but its miners sell almost exclusively to the ceramics industry and are only now preparing to produce the higher-grade lithium that is used in electric cars and to power electronic appliances.
Lusorecursos was awarded a concession to explore a mine in Montalegre, near the Portugal-Spain border, in March this year but final approval depends on the outcome of an environmental impact study.
The chief executive of Lusorecursos, Ricardo Pinheiro, told Reuters the company was planning to build its own refinery in Montalegre as a way “to secure the entire value chain, from mining to obtaining the final product: lithium hydroxide”.
Targeting 2023 as the year Lusorecursos would start processing the so-called “white oil”, Pinheiro said the total investment was around 400 million euros ($440 million), with the refinery costing 300 million euros to build.