A study by the environmental association QUERCUS states that if the government moves ahead with its lithium exploration campaign, Portugal “will not be able to comply with carbon neutrality”.

Samuel Infante of QUERCUS said that the report on the impact of CO2 emissions from lithium mining in Portugal, which was presented on 26 August, points out that if the government moves forward with the lithium exploration campaign, “Portugal will not be able to meet carbon neutrality.”

The official who spoke to journalists at Torre, the highest point of Serra da Estrela, on the sidelines of an action organised by a group of citizens and environmental associations against the exploitation of lithium in Portugal, said that, according to the study, Lithium exploitation will “have a very a significant impact on the quality of life” of the populations and on the local development of the regions concerned.

The study, drawn up at national level, reveals the “complete government misgivings” that it is “on the one hand wanting to achieve carbon neutrality” and, on the other, “moving forward with a lithium mineralisation plan that runs counter to all this investment and these commitments that Portugal has been making worldwide in the fight against climate change”, stressed the QUERCUS leader.

“It is nonsense and we can not say that Portugal wants to assume carbon neutrality, UN commitments, the fight against climate change and the decarbonisation of the economy and, on the other hand, want to bet on mining on this scale, with this impact.” said Samuel Infante.

For the environmentalist, if the government wants to fulfil its commitments on climate change, it “cannot move forward” with the country’s mining plan.

About 400 people participated last Saturday, in an action organised by a group of citizens and environmental associations against the exploitation of lithium in Portugal. The action, which took place at the highest point of mainland Portugal, consisted in the creation of the message “No to the mines. Water is life” and the design of the “tree of life” using the bodies of people, which was then filmed with a drone.

The initiative was promoted by Awakened Forest Project and Wildlings, with the support of other entities such as Tamera, Earthweb and Red Line.

The popular action arose against the Portuguese Government’s international strategy of launching Portugal as a destination for lithium mining, in what QUERCUS already calls a “lithium race”.

The Minister of Environment, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, assured on 26 August that they are “not having any mining development project” but defended the need to harness the potential of lithium in order to meet the goals of carbon neutrality.

“We must take all steps to go beyond lithium exploration from the point of view of geological extraction, trying to structure a whole cluster and an industrial sector that, taking advantage of this resource, goes as far as possible in the value chain, but we have no mining development project for Portugal” he said.

According to the minister, for whom the alternative to lithium exploration in Portugal is its importation, lithium batteries are essential for storing energy from renewable sources, and only then will the country be able to meet the decarbonisation targets of reaching around 80 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

The Minister of Environment took the opportunity to mention that in Portugal there are 56 farms of feldspar, used in the ceramic industry, whose impact is similar.

“How is lithium exploration different from feldspar? It isn’t. It is a quarry where the stone is dismantled and a portion of this stone is lithium ore” he said.