The Imerys company plans to operate a lithium mine on its Beauvoir site, in Allier. It could cover the needs of 700,000 vehicles per year.
Major industrial announcement on Monday: the French company Imerys announces a “major” lithium mining project in France. This material is essential for the batteries of electric cars. However, according to Alessandro Dazza, CEO of Imerys, it is currently 100% imported.
The company found lithium on its Beauvoir site, in Allier, where it has been extracting kaolin for ceramics since the end of the 19th century. Studies confirm a large deposit: Imerys hopes to produce 34,000 tons of lithium hydroxide per year, over at least 25 years. According to him, this represents the needs for around 700,000 electric vehicles per year. That is what Renault intends to produce in total in France in the next few years.
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However, lithium extraction at Beauvoir is far from starting, Imerys hoping to start in 2028, once the laboratory and industrial pilot phases have been completed. The company must also take the time to set up a project “respectful of the environment and local populations”. It aims to reduce the CO2 emissions of its operation, “in order to produce lithium with emissions less than half those of all the other hard rock lithium operations existing today in the world”.
The project is good news for employment, with the possibility of generating 1,000 direct and indirect jobs. Above all, it is an excellent thing for the industrial sovereignty of France and Europe, for the moment dependent on the rest of the world in terms of batteries. If gigafactories of batteries are being built in France, as Alessandro Dazza points out, “we lacked the raw material”.