Czechia's vast lithium deposits could recharge the economy, says PM

Prime Minister Petr Fiala deemed the metal essential for the economic restart of Czechia, which holds the largest lithium deposits in Europe.


Written by ČTK Published on 21.09.2023 10:28:00 (updated on 21.09.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech government is doing everything possible to launch lithium mining in the Krušné hory (Ore Mountains), PM Petr Fiala said during the cabinet's visit to the Ústí nad Labem Region on Wednesday. Fiala added that cooperation between the investor and the regional government was essential.

Fiala sees the mining of lithium, which is used to produce car batteries, as a strategic raw material and essential for the restart of Czechia. According to Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Síkela, negotiations with three investors to build a car battery factory in the Czech Republic are at an advanced stage.

The government wants to have a representative in the working group on lithium mining, said Fiala, who met with representatives of municipalities affected by the mining in the village of Košťany.

According to Fiala, all the participants in the debate were aware of the importance of mining and did not want to block the project. Instead, they expected Czech authorities to lay out "conditions and rules and the whole project in such a way that it takes into account the interests of the locals, citizens, and the whole region," Fiala said after a cabinet meeting.

The North Bohemia Mines (Severočeské doly) mining company, a member of the ČEZ group, owns a majority stake in Geomet, the company preparing deep lithium mining in the region. The deposit near Cínovec in the Teplice region is the largest in Europe and holds up to 5 percent of the world's total lithium reserves. Production is expected to start between 2026 and 2028.

According to Deutsche Welle, citing an analysis from the Czech Chamber of Commerce, lithium could be a game-changer for the Czech Republic, which might face economic stagnation in the following years as a result of exhausting all sources of growth.

Some local mayors have criticized the lack of information about the plan. In response, Fiala said that a government representative would be part of the working group; additionally, one of the goals of the Wednesday meeting was to set up a communication model offering information to the region and municipalities.

Fiala said that this was not the last meeting in the Ústí nad Labem Region this year, adding that the government was trying to have three to four such meetings per year.

The extracted lithium could be used to produce batteries for electric cars. Minister Síkela said that negotiations with three investors in a car battery factory were at an advanced stage. One project concerns Pilsen's Line neighborhood, while another could be in the Ústí nad Labem Region.

While yesterday's governmental meeting mainly focused on regional issues, it also discussed the upcoming draft 2024 state budget at a press conference after the meeting.

Fiala said he expects the cabinet to approve the budget on Sept. 27. He confirmed that he wants to maintain the proposed budget deficit of CZK 252 billion, lower by CZK 43 billion as against the deficit projected for 2023.

The government began a series of trips to the regions in March, when it held talks in Jesenik, in the central Moravian Olomouc Region, and then in June it visited Vimperk in South Bohemia.

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