A municipality in Portugal is planning to file a lawsuit this week against the UK’s Savannah Resources, in a bid to stop it developing four lithium mines, according to Reuters. Savannah develops mineral resources.
The report stated that an ongoing corruption scandal related to energy deals had lent weight to the fight against the company.
Boticas Mayor Fernando Queiroga told Reuters his team was finalising a lawsuit against Savannah over its mining plans and aimed to file it this week.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa resigned last week after prosecutors detained his chief of staff. They named his infrastructure minister as a formal suspect in an investigation into the government’s management of lucrative lithium and hydrogen projects. They allege illegalities.
Portugal has Europe’s largest lithium production, with over 60,000 tonnes of reserves. Most of it goes to the ceramics industry.
Savannah confirmed in a statement last week that its offices had been visited by officers of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Central Investigation and Criminal Action Department (DCIAP). Part of the investigation relates to lithium exploitation concessions in the Romano (Montalegre) and do Barroso (Boticas) projects. It said it cooperated fully and that neither it nor any employees are targets of the investigation.
The company is preparing to produce the higher grade lithium for batteries. The environment agency APA gave the go-ahead earlier this year for Portugal’s Lusorecursos to extract battery-grade lithium in northern Montalegre and for Savannah Resources to develop mines in Boticas, also in the north.
The DCIAP has also named APA President Nuno Lacasta a suspect in its ongoing investigation, according to the Reuters report.
Local residents and environmentalists have opposed the lithium projects on the basis of lack of transparency and overly close links between decision-makers and mining companies.
Photo: Fernando Queiroga, mayor of Boticas municipality, finalising a lawsuit against Savannah Resources