The Czech Republic is looking to open fresh talks with Australian-based
metals company, European Metals Holdings (EMH) over its plans to extract
lithium in the country. Minister of Industry and Trade Tomáš Hüner has
said that a meeting with company bosses should take place within two weeks
at the latest.
A memorandum over lithium mining and processing signed by the previous government will not be cancelled for the moment, the minister added.
The question of lithium mining and the memorandum became one of the main points of conflict in October’s elections to the lower house of parliament with the ANO party of current prime minister, Andrej Babiš, accusing the Social Democrats of selling out the country’s interests.
The Czech Republic is estimated to have some of the biggest lithium reserves in Europe.
A booming economy on the back of higher wages, more people in jobs, and strong exports – fuelled largely by the auto sector - and hardly dimmed by the end of the low crown and resurrection of interest rates as a central bank weapon. That was the big economic picture of the Czech economy in 2017 with the foot on the pedal likely to be lifted just slightly over the coming 12 months.
A Czech inventor is behind what is claimed to be a revolutionary lithium battery which could be the answer to the world’s energy storage problems. And the dream of inventor Jan Procházka is now taking shape with a high tech factory being constructed for the production of those small, high powered but low cost batteries in the far east of the Czech Republic.
The CEO of Australian company European Metals Holdings, Keith Coughlan, has
said the company wants to negotiate the possibility of extraction of
lithium at Cínovka in Teplice in the Ore Mountains with the new
government. According to the CEO, EMH is ready to meet the obligations of a
memorandum signed by the Social Democrat Minister of Industry Jiří
Havlíček and the company at the beginning of October.
The firm has already negotiated with the state enterprise Diamo. It is unclear what tack the next government will take. Lithium mining in the Czech Republic became a heavily politicized issue ahead of the recent election. In the run-up, Andrej Babiš, whose ANO won the election, several times labelled the memorandum as theft.
Construction began on Monday at an industrial zone in Horní Suchá, near
Havířov in the region of Moravia-Silesia on what investors are promising
will be the world’s most modern battery factory. Czech investors under
the Battery Unite Fund put up one billion Czech crowns, the equivalent of
35 million euros, for construction to last 18 months, followed by six
months of testing.
The factory’s production is estimated at 1.2 GWh and it will be the biggest lithium battery supplier in the Czech Republic. The investors said in a press release Monday that the project would also be the “most ecological of its kind in the world, with fully robotic production”.
The final lithium battery is based on the patented HE3DA technology.
The Social Democrats criticised ANO and the Communist Party in a special
session in the lower house on Monday for, in their view, artificially
inflating an affair over lithium mining in the Czech Republic. ANO have
slammed a memorandum recently signed by the Social Democrat-controlled
Ministry of Industry with Australia’s European Metals Holdings Company
for “selling out the national interest”.
Monday’s meeting was prompted by the opposition Communist Party, which likewise argued that lithium did not belong in foreign hands and should remain in the state’s.
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek defended the memorandum along with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who called the tactics by the leader of the ANO party, Andrej Babiš, an attempt to draw attention away from scandals over his own dealings.
The Lower House of Parliament is set to hold an extraordinary meeting on
Monday over lithium mining in the Czech Republic, which has caused a
dispute between the Social Democrats and the ANO party. ANO said the
memorandum signed by the Social Democrat-controlled Ministry of Industry
with Australia’s European Metals Holdings Company sells out the national
The meeting was prompted by the opposition Communist Party, according to which lithium doesn’t belong to foreign hands and should remain in the state hands. However, the Social Democrat foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said the government had agreed a measure aimed at boosting the state’s rights to mine other materials.
The cabinet has rejected a proposal from ANO to abrogate a memorandum on
the mining of lithium signed last week with Australia’s European Metals
Holdings Company. However, the Social Democrat foreign minister, Lubomír
Zaorálek, said the government had agreed a measure aimed at boosting the
state’s rights to mine other materials.
ANO say the memorandum signed by the Social Democrat-controlled Ministry of Industry sells out the national interest. They warn it could lead to the Czech Republic being involved in an international arbitration case that could cost billions of crowns.
European Metals intends to mine the in-demand mineral at Cínovec in North Bohemia.