A French firm is throwing its hat into the lithium sourcing ring as it announced plans to develop its own lithium holdings in Central France. Mineral company Imerys announced that it will be developing a mine in Beauvoir, north of Clermont-Ferrand, intending to produce 34,000 tons of lithium hydroxide a year for the next 25 years, beginning in 2028.
When Imerys’ Beauvoir facility opens, it stands to become one of the largest lithium mining initiatives in the European Union and will be able to supply materials for nearly 700,000 electric can batteries annually. The number represents a significant percentage of the French government’s target of producing two million EVs domestically by 2030.
The announcement led to a 5% rise in Imerys’ share value as trading closed for the day.
According to Imerys CEO Alessandro Dazza, his company is positioning this as a low-emissions initiative, particularly due to its use of an already-operational mining site with its extraction activities done with sustainably-powered electric vehicles. Before being reappropriated for lithium mining, the Beauvoir site served as a key source of kaolin for the French ceramics industry.
Dazza added that Imerys is also set to discuss an investment model with potential partners in the near future before starting construction by the middle of 2025. The overall cost of the initiative has been projected at around $983 million.
Once the Imerys facility is up and running, France and its sister nations within the EU can further reduce their reliance on lithium and other important materials for battery production from overseas. Indeed, much of the world’s lithium is mined outside Europe, mostly in Australia, China, and South America. Likewise, most lithium holdings are managed by either Chinese or Australian mining companies.
A Welcome Initiative
Lithium projects have not always been accepted despite their potential environmental and economic benefits to the communities located within their vicinity. For example, protests from Serbian environmentalists led the government to rescind permits for Rio Tinto’s handling of what could have been the biggest lithium mining project on the continent.
Imerys, however, did not face any such opposition. Indeed, the company’s proposal was welcomed by the French government, which almost automatically included it in its roster of five critical metals projects, among which is a metal recycling initiative by Eramet, which is set to get nearly 100 million euros as funding.