Imerys plans to become a major player in the European lithium market

Photo: Imerys

Imerys, the world leader in mineral-based specialty solutions for the industry, announces the launch of a landmark lithium exploitation project at its Beauvoir site, which has been producing kaolin for ceramics since the late 19th century. Upon successful completion, the project would contribute to the French and European Union’s energy transition ambitions. It would also increase Europe’s industrial sovereignty at a time when car and battery manufacturers are heavily dependent on imported lithium, which is a key element in the energy transition.

The results of surveys carried out confirm that the deposit has very attractive concentrations and quantities of lithium. Imerys aims to produce 34,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year from 2028, making the Group a leading supplier to the European battery market and a key player in the global lithium industry.

Alessandro Dazza, CEO of Imerys, said: “I am very excited by the potential of our lithium project and very proud of the work done by the teams over the last 18 months to develop it. Upon successful completion, the Emili project would provide a sustainable, competitive, domestic source of lithium supply for French and European carmakers and would make a major contribution to meeting the challenges of the energy transition. Throughout the process, Imerys will engage with all stakeholders, from local communities to policymakers, in a spirit of openness and transparency. This project can be a real game changer for Imerys.”

This project is a response to the challenges introduced by the energy transition: it offers a long-term solution that addresses Europe’s decarbonization ambitions while also increasing French and European sovereignty by reducing dependency on imports. Lithium - a key raw material and component for Li-ion batteries - was identified as critical by the European Commission in 2020. Its consumption is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

Building on its experience and knowledge of local biodiversity, Imerys intends to put forward a responsible project that respects the environment and local communities, in accordance with its code of conduct and international standards. In particular, Imerys commits to developing the project in line with IRMA Standard*, which is the benchmark for responsible mining.

In this framework, the Group intends to use underground mining methods in order to minimise the impact on natural habitat. The project design would be developed with the involvement of all local private and public stakeholders in order to devise a responsible industrial project.

According to initial assessments, the project would reach a production target of 34,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year for at least 25 years. It would be one of the European Union’s largest lithium mining projects and could, once fully operational, equip the equivalent of 700,000 electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries.