For João Pedro Matos Fernandes, “just as Portugal is a pity for having an energy matrix that is very dependent on the import of fossil fuels, it should not be a pity for the economic point of view, importing the lithium it can extract” and increasing its value in the country.
“We don’t have any mining development project (…). What we want is an industrial project in Portugal that uses this same lithium as far as possible in the industrial chain”, through “extraction, refining, construction of cells, batteries and the recycling of these batteries, because obviously we should only fetch the minimum amount of lithium that we have to fetch from the earth”, he detailed.
The government official was speaking to journalists after having given a lesson in wisdom at the solemn session at the beginning of the academic year at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto, on the theme “Sustainability: investing in the present”.
Despite the public objection to the mining of this metal, the official maintains that “lithium is essential for decarbonization, lithium is essential for the digitization of the economy”.
Matos Fernandes also stressed that “what is being done is, in public discussion, a strategic environmental assessment, completely transparent and public”, after having been questioned about complaints that the mayors had not been heard.
There was a “will”, on the part of the minister, “not to have public consultation during the electoral campaign”, but the consultation period was extended by a month.
The General Directorate of Energy and Geology (DGEG) has placed for public consultation the preliminary environmental assessment report of the Lithium Prospecting and Exploration Program of the potential areas for launching the tender procedure. The public consultation period foreseen until the 10th of November was, however, extended until the 10th of December.
The preliminary environmental assessment report of the Lithium Prospection and Exploration Program (Lithium PPP) identified “some risks” in the possible areas of the North and Center of the country, recognizing even so that it is an opportunity for a “decarbonization of the economy”.
According to the report, the program “is an opportunity for society and the economy to evolve towards the decarbonization of the economy and to pursue the energy saving strategy”.
The preliminary document analyzed eight areas in the North and Center of the country: Arga (Viana do Castelo), Seixoso-Vieiros (Braga, Porto and Vila Real), Massueime (Guarda), Guarda – Mangualde (four areas spread across Guarda, Viseu, Castelo Branco and Coimbra) and Segura (Castelo Branco).