French Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said in a video interview with Les Echos on Thursday that to meet the needs of the energy transition, France should start Develop domestic lithium resources to move away from dependence on fossil fuels.
France needs "long-term imports of lithium ... but also domestic supply," Pompili told the paper in an interview. "If we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have to face a choice: we need materials like lithium."
Lithium, used in electric vehicle and smartphone batteries, is a critical resource for the 21st century.
Electric vehicles are a key link in the implementation of the EU's emission reduction plan. By building the EU's domestic vehicle and battery projects, the EU is trying to reduce its dependence on battery supplies from Asia. However, almost all of the critical minerals needed by the EU currently come from overseas.
French lithium supplies also depend on domestic firm Eramet, which wants to speed up production at one of its key deposits in Argentina.
French newspaper Les Echos reported on Thursday that domestic lithium deposits had been detected in France for the first time in the eastern region of Alsace.
"If indigenous lithium deposits are discovered, we must mine them responsibly on our own territory, and we have a good environment for development," Pompili said.
In other countries in Europe, indigenous mining has been protested. In Serbia, where anti-mining protests have become a headache for the government, authorities in the country have cancelled Rio Tinto's license to quell public anger.
Soaring sales of electric vehicles have driven lithium demand to multi-year highs, while consumption of other key metals such as nickel and cobalt has also risen sharply.
Analysts believe that low lithium prices and insufficient investment in production capacity in the first three years of 2021 mean that supply will continue to face shortages in the next few years.
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