ČEZ wants to make a decision on the commercial use of lithium in 2023. The final feasibility study should be completed in May next year. This was told to journalists by the director of ČEZ, Daniel Beneš, at the cement plant in Čížkovice in the Litoměřice region. The new technology research center of the University of Chemical Technology in Prague is investigating a method for obtaining lithium there. The ore deposit, which contains metal important for the production of batteries, is located in Cínovec na Teplicku in the Ore Mountains. Two thirds of stocks are on the Czech side, one third on the German side.
Lithium can be processed by two methods. “We would like to decide on the method we will use for processing in 2023 so that we will be able to start production in 2025, so that this schedule meets the schedule for the use of lithium in the production of batteries, especially batteries for electric cars,” said Beneš.
The original technology patented by the Institute of Chemical Technology is being tested on the premises of the Lafarge Cement plant in Čížkovice. The CirkTek center with an experimental rotary kiln was opened in Čížkovice in June. “His first task is to verify the high-temperature waste-free technology for processing lithium ore into material for battery production,” said ICT Rector Pavel Matějka. In such ore processing, the waste that would be generated would be used to produce cement. “We want to test high-temperature technologies for the processing of used batteries, ash processing, panels from solar power plants, it is part of a wider project with a specific focus on the Ústí nad Labem region,” he said. The second method is leaching.
The planned Czech factory for batteries for electric cars, the so-called gigafactory, could produce batteries with a capacity of more than 30 gigawatt-hours, which is enough for 400,000 to 800,000 passenger cars per year. “Gigafactory is always building a consortium of technology partner, energy developer and partner from the automotive industry. We would like to decide on the final consortium by the end of the year,” said Beneš, adding that the factory could be built in 2025. Prunéřov 1 power plant in the Chomutov region, which ČEZ shut down last year. Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček (for YES) said that as soon as a decision was made on construction, work would begin on expanding the surrounding road infrastructure.
Cínovec has about three percent of the world’s known lithium reserves, the price of which has been rising in the last year. The current plan for Geomet’s lithium mining project, in which the semi-state CEZ has a majority stake, envisages the start of mining in 2025. “In the preliminary feasibility study, we had it by extracting 35 million tons of rock, about 1.7 million tons per year, “said Pavel Čmelík, director of CEZ’s development project management department. According to him, experts have already stated that if there is interest, the recoverable part can be significantly higher. It is expected to produce 22,500 tons of lithium hydroxide per year, which could be 500,000 tons of lithium product in twenty years. According to Čmelík, the price of lithium hydroxide is now around $ 15,000 per tonne.
In Cínovec, deep mining is planned, the ore is to be crushed directly in the mine. It is not decided where the processing plant will be. According to Beneš, no obstacles have appeared so far that would prevent mining, and the project still seems to be profitable.
The impacts of mining are assessed within the impact of the construction on the environment (so-called EIA). According to Čmelík, CEZ would like to have all the necessary treasures and studies to issue a decision by the end of next year. CEZ will also finance mining and gigafactory. “CEZ has enough resources for that, we are only preparing investment incentives,” said Havlíček. “On the one hand, we have a huge economic, energy and job opportunity here, on the other hand, mining is always associated with ecological factors,” said Havlíček. Municipalities in the immediate vicinity of Cínovec are in favor of mining. Disagreement was expressed by the town of Krupka in Teplice, which is inscribed with other mining monuments on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List (UNESCO).