Extremadura New Energies, a subsidiary of the Australian company Infinity Lithiumthe day is approaching when it will be able to start mining concentrated lithium in the area San José de Valdeflores, next to Cáceres. After many years of litigation, including in the courts, both the Junta de Extremadura, presided over by Guillermo Fernández Vara, and the city council of the capital Cáceres, with also a socialist Louis Salaya ahead, they seem to have changed their position relative to the mine. Change of position, which is largely due to the “pressure” in favor of the project, since in October 2021 it changed from a quarry to an underground one, from the economic business world of Extremadura. So, for example, the Cáceres Chamber of Commerce considers the mine “very favorable for the industrial development of the city and province.”
The Chamber, which also supports the regional government’s proposal, which will be reflected in a law-decree in the third quarter of this year, that the lithium produced in Extremadura – the Cañaveral and San José de Valdeflores mines located in Cáceres – be distributed to industrial enterprises. projects in Extremadura. Like, for example, the lithium battery gigafactory that will house the Navalmoral de la Mata. The VENERGY+ project, led by Chinese companies Envision and Acciona, with an investment of 1,000 million euros andto create 3,000 jobs.
But this change of position on the Valdeflores project has already been voiced by the mayor of Cáceres himself, the socialist Luis Salaya, who has so far, like the rest of the municipal groups, openly opposed the mine. “Valdeflores lithium mine is a project that is dead and buried”– assured the mayor repeatedly. But everything has changed. In May, Salaya hosted Ramon Jimenez, CEO of Extremadura New Energies, the firm that Australia’s Infinity Lithium works with, and that’s where the change took place. “If what the company says is true and the quarry is excluded, then this may be a profitable project for the city, but it needs to be analyzed,” the mayor assured then.
Immediately, the Junta of Extremadura joined in the mayor’s victory and his new stance on the mine. The representative of the executive branch, chaired by Fernandez Var, supported the words of the adviser about the new project of the Valdeflores mine and made it clear that this was the case.environmentally sustainable” there should be no “problems” and, moreover, “no politician can object”. “I hope this is an environmentally viable project because it would be good for Cáceres and for Extremadura, but it has to meet a number of requirements” and adapt to existing environmental regulations. “That would be good for what we’re all looking for, development, but sustainability”riveted.
As the Hoy newspaper reported this week, the Extremadura junta is already considering one of the research permits requested by an Australian company and this, in addition, under the old law, can already demand the extraction of lithium to the Board, if it considers it profitable. This indulgence between the patrons of the mine and the authorities no doubt contributed to have already paid a fine of 26,500 euros imposed by the Consistory for exceeding tasks for which he had long had a permit and repairing the environment in addition to the damage caused. Thus, La Información was able to learn that an Australian company could request permission from the Board and the city council for mining of lithium from the Cáceres mountains “at any time”.
It is logical that a change of position at the mine, mainly the mayor, divided the paths between him and the citizens’ playground. “Let’s Save Mount Caceres”, which opposed the project from the very beginning and continues to do so. The platform, which stated before the breaking news that “indeed, the pre-constitutional Mining Law provides for the possibility of requesting mining permits if the existence of resources can be demonstrated. But not only does this law exist in our legal system, we must interpret the set of current rules that this obsolete law would conflict with and take into account the proximity of exploitation to the urban core, environmental regulations, rules for hydrographic basins, administrative procedures and what is set in municipal city plans. We know that in Valle de Valdeflores any mining activity is strictly prohibited, so The Junta of Extremadura has refused permission for research in Valdeflores.”
The truth is that mining, along with Caceres, this mineral, which is considered “critical” for the European Union and vital for the development of an electric car, seems closer than ever today. The Infinity Lithium project involves a total investment of over 600 million euros in what is considered the largest mine in Europe, creating 1,500 jobs during the construction phase; 700 during the operational phase (24 years) and the payment of taxes in the amount of about 2400 million euros, according to the company, which will go, half of them to the treasury of Extremadura. But also a good deal for the company with a lithium hydroxide price of 17,000 euros per ton. And the predictions are production of 20,000 tons per year for almost a quarter of a century.
But the project in the capital of Cáceres is not the only lithium project in the province. Not far from there, in Cañaveral, in a project about to be approved by the Junta de Extremadura, Lithium Iberia companyowned by a group of Spanish investors and its strategic partner Phi4Tech, joined by former Indra President Fernando Abril Matorell as director and shareholder, seem to have “done the homework” given by Fernandez Vara regarding to the Las Navas mine in Cañaveral. In October 2021, he presented his mining project to the Board of Directors, which involves an investment of over 300 million euros, which will employ more than 400 employees, in a 19-year operation involving the first six open pits and 13 open pits. stays underground for medium production 2.3 million tons of lithium per course, as well as 30,000 lithium hydroxide. In addition, the project includes a land reclamation program for the third year after the start of mining. The Lithium Iberia and Phi4Tech Cañaveral project includes an engineering plant next to the mine and another cathode plant in the vicinity.
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