EDF and Eramet plan to produce 10,000 tons per year in Alsace

This is a project that is still in its early stages, but already promises to be important. Électricité de Strasbourg, a subsidiary of French mining company Eramet and EDF, plans to produce lithium from geothermal salts in Alsace. In height “about 10,000 tons per year”, which was appropriate “The need for approximately 250,000 electric car batteries per year”, they say in a press release this Thursday, January 26.

The two groups have been working together since 2020 “experiences” In two geothermal power plants in northern Alsace. According to them, they are “proven to be effective” a direct lithium extraction process developed by Eramet from geothermal salts. This water, which is used to generate heat today, is actually enriched with lithium at depth, making it an inactive resource for this metal in Europe.

That’s why Eramet and Electricité de Strasbourg decided to go deeper “cooperation through a memorandum of understanding for the eventual exploitation of their geothermal lithium mining, processing and production capacity,” says the press release.

Lithium extraction: an energy and water intensive technique

A possible start at the end of the decade

Mining can begin by the end of the decade. But for this, the partners must agree on the final investment decision. “On a 4-year horizon”.

The role of the Electricité de Strasbourg will be to provide “Knowledge of the Geology of the Northern Alsace Territory and its Pebbles”. Eramet will bring “innovative process” therefore lithium extraction, “as well as know-how in extraction, processing, production and marketing” Metal.

Lithium production and reserves today are mainly concentrated in Australia, China and South America. This is a metal moniker “Oil of the 21st century” because it is a key element in the production of batteries for electric cars, which are expected to be the only new cars to be sold in the European Union from 2035. Therefore, the demand will increase in the future.

Aluminium, copper, lithium… The EU’s huge metal needs could destroy its climate and sovereignty goals.

To establish French sovereignty

In this context, Eramet does not hesitate to highlight the strengths of the Alsace project. “This innovative and sustainable project (…) reinforces French and European sovereignty for the supply of lithium, essential in the battery value chain”, According to CEO Christel Bories. Cedric Lewandowski, chairman of the Board of Directors of Strasbourg Electricity, thinks so. “A strategic opportunity for France”.

The announcement comes three months after French industrial minerals group Imerys. The latter announced in October that it plans to build Europe’s second-largest lithium mine at Allier (massif central) for a long time until 2027. “Power the equivalent of 700,000 electric cars with lithium-ion batteries” in the year. Lithium reserves are estimated to be one million tons there. And deposit for the company “Contains much more due to ongoing drilling operations”.

Energy transition and sovereignty: Imerys plans to mine lithium at Allier

In addition to production, lithium conversion must be ensured. Multinational Ensorcia last week announced the creation of a subsidiary to build a lithium hydroxide production plant for electric vehicle batteries in Europe. “expected”. If multiple sites are being considered in Europe, “France is at the top of the list” according to the group, the investment will enable the creation of more than 100 direct jobs. The plant will begin operations in 2025 and eventually produce more than 40,000 tons.

(via AFP)