The project’s global warming potential was modelled by consultancy Minviro using an ISO-compliant life cycle assessment to quantify emissions from the lithium chemical production and to provide clear resolutions of emission drivers.
It also identified that solar power electric mining fleet, Hypex Bio explosives and green hydrogen for thermal energy could be used to reduce emissions and allow the project’s lithium chemicals to have one of the lowest CO2 intensity globally if all were used.
European Metals’ JV partner and power producer CEZ plans to provide 100% renewable energy to power the underground mine, its front-end comminution and its beneficiation and lithium chemical plants.
CEZ owns renewables energy installations with a combined power generation capacity of 1,720 MW, which will increase by 1,500 MW by 2025.
The project’s acidification potential, water use and land use were also assessed through the LCA, with it finding that the acidification potential was comparable to Chilean brine, but only 13% of the equivalent for Australian spodumene processed in China.
It also found that Cinovec’s water use was projected to be lower than all benchmarks and below 5% of Chilean brine water use even when water evaporated from the brine was not included in the water use calculation.
European Metals executive chairman Keith Coughlan said the assessment had found that Cinovec had the potential to have the lowest overall environmental impacts compared to other conventional lithium battery metals projects, not only in Europe, but also on a global basis.
“With the use of solar power and other optimizations, the Cinovec project will set a standard by which all other conventional lithium producers could be judged. We expect the environmental credentials of the Cinovec project will help make its product valuable to end-users, particularly in light of the new EU requirements in relation to greenhouse emissions,” Coughlan said.
He added that, not only did the optimized model demonstrate low CO2 emissions, but the project also delivered good results with regards to acidification and water consumption.
EMH is currently carrying out a mine backfill study and a revised prefeasibility study updating the economics and value of Cinovec, with an update on these expected shortly.
The Cinovec project is expected to come into production by 2024, producing 25,000 mt/year of battery grade lithium hydroxide, or slightly less carbonate if this was required by future offtake partners.