Europe’s mining quest faces a hurdle: angry locals – by Catarina Demony, Pietro Lombardi and Simon Johnson (Reuters – September 13, 2023)

COVAS DO BARROSO, Portugal, Sept 13 (Reuters) – In Portugal’s northern Barroso region, Maria Loureiro weeps at the prospect of losing her family’s land to a mine that could become one of Europe’s biggest producers of lithium, used in electric vehicle batteries and other clean technologies.

“I don’t want them to take away what has been left to me by my parents and grandparents,” 55-year-old Loureiro said. “I don’t want the mine … I will fight it to the death.” She is among local activists in Portugal and elsewhere whose determination to halt mine developments – via protests, legal challenges or simply refusing to sell or rent the land needed – threatens to slow the European Union’s green transition.

Their opposition could also frustrate plans for the EU to reduce its dependence on China by producing more itself of the raw materials needed for technology like EVs.

With 60,000 tonnes of known reserves, Portugal is already Europe’s biggest producer of lithium, traditionally mined for ceramics. Barroso, whose lush mountain pastures are a Food and Agriculture Organization heritage site, contains one of its richest deposits.

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