Eramet and Electricité de Strasbourg, two French companies, are preparing to extract geothermal lithium in Alsace. The mining group joined forces with the Alsatian energy company to create the project “ Alsace Lithium Geothermal Energy » (or Ageli). They have just announced the deployment of a pilot lithium extraction unit at the Rittershoffen power plant.
Lithium extraction: a major challenge for Europe
Lithium is an essential metal for manufacturing electric car batteries. Some countries have enormous quantities of this white gold, but this is not exactly the case for France. Whatever. Several projects have emerged in recent years, notably initiatives linked to geothermal energy. This is the case of an initiative carried out jointly by Eramet, a French mining and metallurgical group, and Électrcité de Strasbourg, the Alsatian energy company. Both are committed within the project Alsace Lithium Geothermal Energy » (Ageli) whose objective is to extract lithium from geothermal waters.
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At the Rittershoffen power plant in the Bas-Rhin department, the two French companies wish “ demonstrate the effectiveness of their lithium extraction process ”, in real conditions. A real challenge for the European Union, and for France. The sale of thermal cars will be banned by 2035 and the Old Continent is looking for ways to gain sovereignty over the electric car and battery market. With local lithium, the equation seems more affordable. As extraction projects of this type are rare in France, this initiative is more than welcome.
French production for more sovereignty?
According to Ludovic Donati, director of the Ageli project, “ I think it is important to have this type of project to ensure part of the extraction of metals in the territory and the production of lithium carbonate for future gigafactories “. A few kilometers from Strasbourg, the production of lithium carbonate will begin in 2024. In 2025, Eramet and Electricité de Strasbourg plan to reach 24,000 tonnes per year. In Alsatian geothermal waters, the French mining and metallurgical group will implement a process that has already proven itself in Centenario, Argentina.
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This production of a French lithium would make it possible to respond “ to the needs of around 250,000 electric vehicle batteries per year “. It won’t be enough, but it’s a good start. The test that will be carried out on our soil consists of ensuring “ stability of the material » and check the “ lithium recovery yield », Specify the two companies. At the same time, Eramet wishes to produce carbon-free geothermal energy in order to “ contribute to the energy transition of the Alsatian territory ».
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