People of Portugal, which is known for its 60,000 tonnes of lithium reserves, took to the streets in Lisbon to protest against the illegal extraction of lithium. According to reports, people are demonstrating against companies seeking to extract lithium for commercial purposes and maintain their rights over the land.
According to reports, the protest will put the Portuguese government in a difficult spot. With growing resistance by local groups against lithium exploration and extraction, who manage the rural areas, could result in the miners arriving at a standstill. It could also lead the miners seeking help from the government to take away the rural Portuguese lands required for the exploration of lithium deposits
The consequences of this incident will be felt beyond the borders as Portugal is a crucial part of Europe's attempt to stop its dependence on imports of lithium. According to reports, a representative of the European Commission said that using European lithium deposits is a significant part of the European Union's attempt to use more for the battery value chain as car manufactures in the continent make and release electric vehicles.
According to reports, at least five municipalities have signed a motion that is against exploring lithium and a few groups have inked a national manifesto against the Portuguese government's mining strategy. However, the government is drafting a new mining law to implement strict rules on future mining licences and is planning to hold discussions with local communities in the month of February 2020.
According to reports, both mining companies and the government are of the opinion that mining could bring in money and create jobs to inland regions struggling with issues such as low investment.
According to reports, Portugal produced approximately 1,200 tonnes of lithium in 2019. The country is the biggest lithium producer for Europe but generates less as compared to Australia(42,000 tonnes) and Chile(18,000 tonnes). According to reports, Europe has a capacity to generate three per cent of the global battery production and does not have a single lithium refinery and solely relies on imported raw materials.