A confluence of demand factors is opening up enormous new opportunities throughout the lithium supply chain in Europe.
While the nexus between Australian suppliers and Chinese processors remains the foremost lithium supply chain set-up in the world, as a result of the strategic emphasis placed on its progress by the Chinese government, the balance is changing.
For now at least, the European lithium value chain is in development, but that could soon advance with the help of traditional open cut mines. A leading example of this is the mine being developed by Savannah Resources plc at its Mina do Barroso project in northern Portugal.
Evaluation of the mine has been fast-tracked, with around nine million tonnes of material defined to date and expectations that there will prove to be up to 20 million tonnes of material at the site. The aim for Savannah Resources is that the mine should become a leading major source of lithium spodumene concentrate in Europe, with a wealth of downstream opportunities expected to spring from that basis.
Key to the potential profitability of the mine and of Savannah Resources as an AIM-listed operation, is the growing demand for batteries capable of storing energy for electric vehicles and industrial-scale renewable energy supply facilities.