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Zero carbon lithium extraction project in Portugal joined by ABB

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ABB will provide technical expertise on the development of a lithium extraction facility in Portugal, which targets zero emissions status by 2030. 

The Switzerland-headquartered automation and engineering technology company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Savannah Resources, owner of the Mina do Barroso Lithium Project in northern Portugal. 

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The spodumene lithium project has the potential to offer high quality concentrates and Savannah has been granted a mine lease for 27Mt mineral resources, value until 2036 and extendable. The operation could be expanded at a later date.

It could be a useful resource for Europe’s battery industry in reducing dependence on imported materials, mostly from China. Savannah wants to implement nearly 240 measures to ensure responsible development and mitigate environmental impacts as it moves to establish the site as carbon neutral by 2030. 

Operations would be mostly powered by locally generated hydro, solar and wind energy.

Meanwhile ABB will look at how the Barroso site can be electrified, automated and digitalised, while its engineers will formulate production control and process solutions that could eliminate emissions.

It is one of a number of zero carbon emissions lithium extraction plants that have been in development around the world: another in Europe is planned for Germany’s Upper Rhine Rift region by Vulcan Energy Resources, which would take lithium from deposits in brine pumped up from the ground using renewable energy. 

As reported by Energy-Storage.news, LG Energy Solution signed an offtake agreement for battery grade lithium chemicals from Vulcan’s site, which intends to begin commercial supply in 2025. 

In the US, California’s inland Salton Sea, a landlocked body of highly saline water, is being seen as a potential site for extracting lithium from geothermal brine. Developer Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) wants to build the lithium extraction facility and a geothermal power plant to start coming online in 2023 and 2024. 

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