US interest in lithium production
After the marked interest from the Swedish company Northvolt in mining and refining lithium ore in Portugal, the US has now decided it wants to invest in lithium production in the country.
The US, through its under-secretary for Energy Resources has made it clear that should the deposits in Portugal of ‘white gold’ be in sufficient quantities, it would encourage US companies to invest in the sector.
According to Jornal Económico, there were round table meetings between the US government Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, Francis Fannon, members of the Portuguese government and private sector recently discussing a tentative alliance made up of various countries to ensure “investments that follow best environmental practices”.
“I am here in Portugal given its potential in terms of (lithium) resources and because of the government’s ambition to grab this opportunity at the time at which it holds the presidency of the European Union,” said Fannon in an interview, adding that “Portugal is in a position of leadership to show the world what a responsible energy supply chain is”.
Fannon called the project “an incredible opportunity,” adding that there are “other areas of the energy sector in which the US wants to work with Portugal.”
The offer comes after last September’s “rough wooing” in which the US said it welcomed US investment in Portugal but hinted, through its ambassador to Lisbon, George E. Glass, that Portugal couldn’t have its cake and eat it by dealing with China and the US over sensitive issues for which it received a polite but nevertheless firm reminder that Portugal is a sovereign country which is at liberty to do business with whichever country it chooses.
One example of clean energy on which the US wants to work together with Portugal is green hydrogen. “There are many US companies interested in this and there are many areas in which we could deepen (our economic relationship).” he said.
As to the meetings with the government, Francis Fannon said that no specific dates had been set as to when and by what measures Portugal should be producing quantities of lithium on an industrial scale, but the government has said that its level of commitment is in line with “doing it in the right way” and that its commitment is “very high”.