The race is on to discover a regular supply of lithium, a key part in rechargeable electrical automotive batteries. But whereas the EU focuses on emissions, the lithium gold rush threatens environmental harm on an industrial scale

Even earlier than the brand new mine turned the primary matter of village dialog, João Cassote, a 44-year-old livestock farmer, was fascinated with making a change. Living off the land in his mountainous a part of northern Portugal was a grind. Of his shut childhood mates, he was the one one who hadn’t gone abroad looking for work. So, in 2017, when he heard of a British firm prospecting for lithium within the area of Trás-os-Montes, Cassote known as his financial institution and requested for a €200,000 mortgage. He purchased a John Deere tractor, an earthmover and a conveyable water-storage tank.

The exploration group of the UK-based mining firm Savannah Resources had spent months poring over geological maps and surveys of the hills that ripple out from Cassote’s farm. Initial calculations indicated that they might comprise greater than 280,000 tonnes of lithium, a silver-white alkali steel – sufficient for 10 years’ manufacturing. Cassote acquired in contact with Savannah’s native workplace, and the mining agency duly contracted him to provide water to their check drilling website. The return on his funding was swift. After lower than 12 months on the corporate’s books, Cassote had made what he would normally earn in 5 – 6 years on the farm.

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