Speaking at the high-level "Green Mining" conference of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union, he said that lithium plays an essential role in the energy decarbonisation agenda and praised the "high potential" of mining in the north and centre of the country and that the country had the "unique advantage" of having an abundance of lithium, and should therefore contribute to decarbonisation.

The launch of the tender awaits a strategic environmental impact study, which is the responsibility of the Energy and Geology Authority, and should be published by November, according to the Minister for the Environment at the same meeting.

Lithium prospecting and research aims to find out about the existence of lithium mineral deposits, their quantities and economic viability of their extraction, but excludes areas with environmental protection status or where an environmental impact assessment is already underway.

The government had announced that the tender would be launched after this strategic environmental assessment and after the new mining law, approved in October by the Council of Ministers, came into force, with new standards of environmental sustainability, sharing of economic benefits with local communities and more powers for municipalities.