Friday, September 30

Extremadura will expropriate lithium exploitations that refuse to transform it and leave its benefits in the region

The Junta de Extremadura will expropriate, to put out to public tender, the lithium mining operations that reject the treatment of the mineral once extracted and its benefits remain in Extremadura. It is the main novelty of the draft decree-law that the Governing Council approved this Wednesday to declare this resource of general interest.

Companies that do not accept this obligation will not obtain the exploitation permit and those deposits and their facilities will go out to public tender for their social interest. The projects that do accept the conditions will obtain the Premia qualification and will be able to benefit from a more agile bureaucratic process and public aid.

The text will now go to the Assembly, where its approval is expected in September, something that the regional government will have resolved, since the PSOE has a regional majority in this Chamber.

The Minister of Ecological Transition, Olga García, explained after the Governing Council that it is a decree-law of urgent measures, since it will be applied to all files related to lithium that are in process and have not been resolved. Specifically, the Board has 14 files in process. Of these, six have been resolved but refer to research permits -among them the one for the controversial lithium mine in Cáceres-, and of the other remaining 7 research permits and one exploitation permit, the one for the mine in Cañaveral, also in the province of Cácereña.

According to García, the decree-law was born out of the “need derived from the international situation of lithium and its volatility, which is affected by the invasion of Ukraine, and also given that it is an essential mineral for the implementation of electric mobility and the development of energy storage.

Lithium is one of the fundamental raw materials, according to the European Union, which is why Extremadura has wanted to protect its exploitation and transformation in this way, explained the Minister of Ecological Transition, who has described the decree as an “intervention measure” which is already included in the mining legislation. In addition, García recalled that Portugal also has a similar regulation, which obliges companies to keep the transformation of lithium extracted in that country in the territory.

“Extremadura is advancing along the same path to promote the permanence of economic, fiscal and employment benefits” in the region, affirmed the minister, who, however, stressed that, due to its “pioneering character”, it has been taken into account that state legislation is not adapted to the constitutional regime of distribution of powers. But the Board understands that the power of administrative intervention that the Mining Law attributes to the State to force the concessionaire to make use that favors the general interest “can be exercised by Extremadura.”