Swedish mining environmental hurdles hamper EU push for electric vehicle batteries

TALGA has been waiting more than a decade to build a graphite mine in Sweden that could provide enough battery material to power a million electric cars a year and reduce the continent’s dependence on China.

After some signs of progress, the Australian company is in administrative limbo at its Nunasvaara South site after a court date for an environmental permit was pushed back to February. The slow process has dragged the project out since 2011.

“The fundamental problem we have is this unlimited processing time,” said Martin Phillips, chief operating officer at Talga, who says graphite from its mine and refinery, which is powered by renewable energy, is the world’s greenest battery anode for electric vehicles will manufacture. “This presents us with the challenge of continuing to fund our company while we await the decision of the Swedish authorities.”

Two years ago, the European Union highlighted Sweden’s vast natural resources, which comprise about half of the 30 commodities the bloc considers critical to meeting its goals for green technologies like batteries for electric vehicles. Sourcing them from the EU would ease dependence on China at a time when supply chain issues and geopolitical tensions are fueling the drive for greater self-sufficiency.

But the prospects of getting projects off the ground seem more uncertain than ever due to a lengthy permitting framework and fierce local opposition, miners say.

While Sweden has a centuries-long history of extracting metals from the earth and is said to be Europe’s largest iron ore producer, new projects have been beset by environmental concerns and encroachment on the indigenous Sami people of the north – whose reindeer grazing rights are crucial to their livelihood.

“Mines always have a big impact on both the environment and other activities like reindeer herding and tourism,” says Jonas Rudberg, spokesman for the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, an environmental group.

In southern Sweden, the struggle to mine rare earth minerals at Norra Karr, considered the most prospective deposit in Europe, has been going on for more than a decade. Locals fear a mine would not only destroy surrounding farms and forests, but also contaminate nearby Lake Vattern, the source of drinking water for 300,000 people.

Such accidents are not without precedent. In 2012, in one of the country’s worst environmental disasters, leaks from a tailings pond at the Talvivaara nickel mine in neighboring Finland spilled toxic levels of metals and uranium into nearby lakes and rivers.
Industry leaders say local concerns risk standing in the way of broader technological changes that would help the environment and fight climate change.

“It’s a double standard,” said Roberto Garcia Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of Eurobattery Minerals, an exploration company aiming to develop sustainable and ethical mineral mines in the EU.

Bloomberg

“Everyone wants to drive electric cars, but we don’t want a mine in the backyard – and that has to change.”

(Blumberg)

https://www.independent.ie/business/world/swedish-environmental-mining-hurdles-impede-eus-electric-vehicle-battery-push-41945752.html Swedish mining environmental hurdles hamper EU push for electric vehicle batteries

Fry Electronics Team

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