By launching a project to mine lithium in France, Imerys is playing its part in the energy transition
On October 24, Imerys announced the start of the EMILI project in the presence of government officials, elected representatives and local authorities.
Naturally, it was at the Beauvoir site that Imerys CEO Alessandro Dazza announced the launch of “EMILI” (Imerys’ Lithium mica mining project) on 24 October 2022. Several government officials and local authority representatives were in attendance: Valérie Hatsch, the préfet for the Allier region, Claude Riboulet, president of the regional council and Stéphanie Dupuy-Lyon, head of the department for development, housing and nature (DGALN), which reports to France's Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Regional Unity.
A number of elected representatives – including the mayors of Echassières and its surrounding communes – Véronique Pouzadoux, president of the intercommunal structure and various Imerys partners, including the BRGM (the geological and mining research bureau) were also present. Over the last month, elected representatives had already been invited to an introduction of the project and the consultation phase will now get started.
A powerful solution to the challenges posed by the energy transition
The launch of the EMILI project establishes Imerys as a key player in the energy transition. This major lithium mining project at the Beauvoir site in the Allier region will enable 34,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide to be produced annually from 2028 onwards. A significant step up for the Group which is now set to become a leading supplier on the European battery market. The EMILI project will also help improve France's and Europe’s industrial sovereignty – it will play a part in creating an integrated battery production sector at a time when manufacturers and carmakers are heavily dependent on lithium imports.
The government has been involved in the project's launch, as detailed in the press release that was published on the same day on Imerys' website. Bruno Le Maire, France's Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty said: “I warmly welcome Imerys’ launch of the very first low-carbon lithium mine in France. This project is exemplary from an environmental and climate perspective and will drastically reduce our lithium import needs. It will enable us to produce daily 700,000 electric car batteries per year. It will help us meet the target set by Emmanuel Macron of producing 2 million electric vehicles in France by 2030 and as such will be supported by the government”.
An environmentally responsible mine, designed in consultation with stakeholders
During his visit to the site, Alessandro Dazza began his speech with a reminder of how the project began. The presence of lithium-rich granite beneath the quarry, first detected in the 1960s, was confirmed by the exploration program conducted in 2020. The attractiveness of this deposit was then further confirmed by the latest exploration program in 2022.
Before Valérie Hatsch and Claude Riboulet spoke (see inset), Alessandro Dazza also emphasized Imerys' commitments in terms of designing and developing a responsible mine – one that meets the most stringent environmental norms and practices. “Drawing on our expertise in extracting and transforming minerals, on our operational excellence and on our ability to deliver projects responsibly and sustainably, we are building, here in Beauvoir, one of Europe's main lithium mining projects”, he declared.
He then went on to share details of the project's timeline , which should enable – subject to the necessary permits being obtained and consultation with stakeholders – commercial operation to commence in 2028. This will involve investments of more than €1 billion and the creation of more than a thousand direct and indirect jobs.
Around fifty or so attendees were also invited to visit one of the locations at which the geological surveys were conducted. This provided concrete evidence of just how exceptional this project is – both for Imerys and for all of its stakeholders.
EMILI in three key figures:
During their speeches, they said:
The EMILI project promises a great deal. To bring it into operation as quickly as possible, we all need to work together on the next step – engaging in dialog with the relevant stakeholders. I know that Imerys has already done a lot in this regard. For a long time now, you have been meeting all of the mayors concerned and have been working with various government departments. You have also incorporated an ethical dimension into your project […] I firmly believe that taking the time to engage in discussion at each stage of project will enable us to get it off the ground faster.
Right from the start [of the project], I have seen just how keen you have been to adopt an environmentally sound approach […] Through your teams, I have seen how important it is for you to be exemplary [...] Our region is obviously in favor of energy transitions – provided that they do not damage the historical heritage of our built or natural environments.
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