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Portugal wants to hunt for lithium deposits

LISBON (AFP) – Portugal’s government said on Friday it will launch an international tender for offers to prospect for lithium, a critical element in batteries for electrical vehicles.

The southern European nation currently produces lithium for the ceramic and glass industries, but already has mining projects in the pipeline to meet the boom in demand as Europe phases out fossil fuel-powered cars by 2035.

Environment and Climate Action Minister Joao Pedro Matos Fernandes said prospecting would be opened in six sites, with five other potential deposits excluded for environmental reasons.

The tender for offers is expected to be launched within two months, while any mining projects that follow would likely take five years to develop.

Matos Fernandes said that one of the selection criteria would be a complete industrial plan.

“Not a gramme of lithium will be processed outside of Portugal,” he said.