Plans are afoot to mine lithium at Horní Slavkov, West Bohemia, which has double the deposits of a mine at Cínovec in the north of the country.
Cínovecká deponie, a company controlled by Czech billionaire Karel Janeček’s investment fund RSJ Investments, already possesses all the necessary permits needed to mine lithium in Cínovec, a former mining town in the Krušné Mountains near the German border in north Bohemia. Work is due to begin there in two years’ time.
Now Sanaka Industry, which is also owned by RSJ Investments, is seeking to mine the valuable element at Horní Slavkov, near Sokolov in West Bohemia, the business daily E15 reported. The site is at a waste pond left behind after the mining of tin in the area.
This month the project won agreement from the Czech Ministry of the Environment following the conducting of a binding environmental impact assessment.
Novinky.cz reported that under the environmental impact assessment lithium should be mined on an area of around 23 hectares at Horní Slavkov.
A proposal to mine an area of over 44 hectares was rejected, as was the idea of extracting lithium in only two parts of the waste pond, the news site said.
A spokesperson for Sanaka Industry, Martin Frýdl, told E15 that a mining platform would now have to be established at the waste pond. The company may make a mining application in around a year, he said.
There is estimated to be twice as much lithium at Horní Slavkov as at Cínovec, with a geographical survey suggesting that it contains up to 5,400 tonnes of pure lithium.
Plans are to mine the site for 13 and a half years. Each year Sanaka Industry aims to process 360,000 tonnes of raw materials, which should produce less than 65,000 tonnes of lithium concentrate. It is used to make lithium carbonate, which is in turn used for battery production.
At a town hall meeting last year some residents of Horní Slavkov expressed opposition to the extraction of lithium in the area, citing fears of heavy truck traffic.
For this reason one of the Ministry of the Environment’s demands is that extracted ore must be transported to a railway siding by conveyor belt, E15 said.
A partner in the project said last year that RSJ Private Equity would seek a strategic partner for the mines in Cínovec and Horní Slavkov. However, Mr. Frýdl of Sanaka Industry said no major negotiations were taking place at present as the company focuses on launching operations.
The Czech Republic possesses around 6 percent of the world’s supply of lithium, E15 said.
In addition to the Czech project, a company named Geomet, owned by Australian investors European Metals, is preparing to mine lithium underground at Cínovec.
Lithium is in high demand as it is used in the production of batteries for mobile phones and electric cars.