Plans for Australian mining firm European Metals Holdings Limited (EMH) to develop a lithium deposit in the Czech Republic are in doubt after the country’s prime minister said an agreement was invalid.
Andrej Babis (pictured), who took office following elections last October, said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the previous administration and EMH to cooperate in developing the Cinovec deposit was “null and void”.
Babis said the state should control the project and reap the rewards of any future lithium sales to power the expanding EV batteries and electric storage market. He said state mining company Diamo would now conduct a survey of the deposit, which lies 100 kilometres northwest of Prague on the border with Germany.
“As we said before the elections, we want lithium to remain in our hands,” Babis said.
Last October’s MOU was signed despite concerns raised by Babis’ ANO party— then a junior government coalition partner— about the granting of exploration rights to EMH, which owns the domestic mining firm Geomet.
EMH, which purchased a 100% interest in the exploration rights to Cinovec in 2012, did not respond to BBB’s request for comment.
EMH has said previously that Cinovec “hosts the largest lithium resource in Europe, and one of the largest undeveloped tin resources in the world”. The company said the project offered “ready access to end user car makers and companies involved in energy storage”.
Last July, EMH said a preliminary feasibility study undertaken for Cinovec indicated a maiden probable ore reserve of 34.5Mt @ 0.65% Lithium oxide (Li2O).