Portugal: War over lithium behind the mountains – by Jochen Faget (DW.com – September 8, 2021)


Birds are chirping, and the corn stands tall ready to be harvested. A cow is grazing at the roadside while a shepherd is accompanying his sheep on their way to the pasture. There’s no cloud in sight, only endless forests and huge letters reading “HELP,” mown into flat broom shrubs and visible from a distance.

This idyllic landscape near the village of Covas do Barroso is in danger of having to make way for open-cast lithium mining, ironically in the name of environment protection. The mine would extract a crucial raw material for the batteries of electric cars and thus contribute to reducing global CO2 emissions and Europe’s dependence on lithium imports.

Portugal’s government has decided to turn the country into a big player regarding lithium mining. The nation sits on an estimated 10% of overall lithium deposits in Europe. But unfortunately, most of the metal is located in beautiful places such as Covas do Barroso, which makes it a breeding ground for conflict.

Severe ecological damage expected

The chairman of a local action group, Nelson Gomes, says the plan is to mine lithium here in four locations initially. “There will be huge mine dumps, and rivers will be redirected,” he told DW. “The whole landscape and its ecological balance will be destroyed.”

For the rest of this article: https://www.dw.com/en/portugal-war-over-lithium-behind-the-mountains/a-59064217