Below you will find information regarding lithium and the San José Valdeflórez Project
━ Will the project be visible from Cáceres?
━ Will the site that will occupy the deposit be recovered?
━ Will it affect the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Montaña?
━ What will be the acoustic impact?
━ What consequences can it have on the native flora and fauna?
━ Will the project damage the air of Cáceres?
━ Will the project generate toxic waste?
━ Is San José Valdeflórez a sustainable project?
━ How much water will the project need and where will it come from?
━ How big will be the open pit?
━ Will the Calerizo aquifer be affected?
━ What is the initial investment of the project?
━ How many jobs will generate San José Valdeflórez?
━ Which professional categories will be demanded?
━ What kind of companies can San José Valdeflórez attract to Cáceres and Extremadura?
━ About the already existing companies in Cáceres, how will they benefit from San José Valdeflórez?
Lithium is a worldwide strategic mineral because it is the key to the optimal development of renewable energies that replace fossil fuels, reducing the progressive global warming. The future of electric vehicles depends on lithium.
This mineral is also the raw material used to manufacture the batteries of mobile phones, tablets, computers, or household energy accumulators, among others. In addition, it is an essential, irreplaceable element for the development of storage systems for electricity from solar and wind farms, a rapidly growing sector on which Extremadura has placed great reliance for its future, as well as being totally and necessary to comply with the renewable energy objectives of the European Union.
Global forecasts indicate that lithium consumption will be multiplied by 8 from now until 2030.
Valdeflórez is a place with unique geological characteristics where mining activity existed until the 1970s and which has continued to be investigated until the 1990s. Research and studies conducted by Tecnología Extremeña de Litio (TEL) indicate that Valdeflórez may be one of the largest deposits of lithium of Europe. Its value increases if we take into account that there is still no deposit in operation in the territory of the European Union.
With the research carried out to date, it is estimated that it contains around 1.6 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent. Lithium will be extracted through a very technically advanced industrial process without risk to the environment, and that will processed entirely in the adjacent factory to obtain lithium hydroxide, an essential compound ready for the manufacturing of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and in particular the lithium-ion batteries to be used in electric vehicles.
In addition, the geology of the area is known, the reservoir is modeled and the resource is easily reachable as it is close to the surface.
No, San José Valdeflórez is an industrial project that estimates an initial investment of 280 million euros, of which 83% of it will be allocated for the construction of an industrial plant in Cáceres for the processing of the mineral.
The lithium hydroxide that will be processed in the San José Valdeflórez plant is an essential compound ready for the manufacturing of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. It is estimated that with the lithium hydroxide that will be processed in Cáceres, the batteries of more than 10 million full electric vehicles can be manufactured.
The ecological transition to clean energy has already begun and other countries have taken the lead. In terms of mobility, for example, China is leading the industrial development of the electric vehicle and Europe is forced to promote the transformation of the automobile industry to adapt to the new reality a sector of enormous weight in the economy of the continent: in Spain, the second largest producer in the EU, the automotive industry represents more than 10% of its GDP. This industry faces a critical situation as it is switching from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles and the country must be capable of attracting investments from automakers in this transition.
Europe, which has historically led the automotive industry worldwide, has a clear competitive disadvantage in not producing lithium within its borders. This, in addition to increasing the carbon footprint of the vehicles produced, is a delay in the implementation of battery factories, a key part for the transformation of the automotive industry.
The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, has traveled to China in 2019 to learn about the progress of the Asian giant in terms of electric mobility and to try to attract investments in the sector. Having access to one of the largest sources of raw material is, without a doubt, a claim to turn Cáceres into a pole of industrial attraction.
The European Commission is driving the ecological transition of the industry, a challenge in which the transformation of the automobile sector has a key weight, for its contribution to the economy and employment of the continent. Brussels has not only identified the strategic importance of lithium, but is financing initiatives through the European Investment Bank and is promoting cross-border cooperation in this area.
In this field, it stands out the European Battery Alliance (EBA), a joint coordinated effort of public administrations and private companies, which is already beginning to develop battery factories and diverse projects in the continent. The EBA has already expressed its support for San José Valdeflórez to ensure access to this raw material and guarantee the supply of this key element for the industrial future of Europe.
The quarry extraction activities are not visible from the old town of Caceres or from the Trujillo highway. Activities will be restricted to daytime, negating the requirement to use large lighting plants that could affect the skyline.
Industrial plants require lighting and therefore some form of artificial lighting in the evening. To minimize light pollution, large amounts of the project have the potential to be enclosed in prefabricated sheeting.
Yes. The project foresees the investment of 16 million euros in the rehabilitation of the land, which will start shortly after the start of mining production. The project will use global best practices to continuously rehabilitate the project area through revegetation of native species planted on rock, sand and clay.
The integrated restoration of the quarry will take place after the extractive operations conclude. At the end of its exploitation, the cutting area could become a reservoir of fresh water for Cáceres, an artificial lake that will be used for recreational use and activities, giving Cáceres a new element of leisure. Other options are also considered to make the rehabilitation of the open pit something attractive to the people of Caceres and Extremadura. Across the world, there are examples of great open pit rehabilitation such as amphitheaters in Dalhalla (Sweden) or in Perth (Australia).
For the rehabilitation of the space the revegetation will be carried out with native species adapted to the temperatures, precipitations and characteristics of the soils of the environment. The integration of the new topography in the environment will be prioritized.
Absolutely not. The enclave where the project will settle, in the middle of the valley, is a natural barrier that will make the Sanctuary protected by the orography. In addition, the exploitation is more than three kilometers from the urban center and the historic center of Cáceres, so the deposit will not be visible from the city. An acoustic barrier will be installed in the northern zone of the project which will prevent the propagation of sound waves aided by the natural barrier resulting from the terrain.
Minimum since the orography of the terrain will act as a natural acoustic barrier.
Additionally, in the northern area of the project, an acoustic and visual barrier has been designed that will prevent the propagation of sound waves through the valley.
Moreover, as opposed to most mining operation, TEL will only operate the mine during the day.
Noise is also reduced from the processing activities through the ability to be contained within large fabricated structures.
Noise from machinery is largely carried by wind. Wind direction is important when considering the potential impacts of the generation of noise. Wind direction is from the west and north in most of the time which will minimize any impact as well.
Tecnología Extremeña del Litio has carried out an exhaustive study of the flora and fauna sighted in the project area and surroundings with the help of specialist consultants.
Before the beginning of the activity, new and exhaustive explorations will be carried out in order to avoid possible affections on the present fauna. A rigorous program of environmental supervision will be followed at all times in order to guarantee the preservation of environmental values in the area.
Furthermore, the project will exceed that established by European regulatory requirements with energy management systems based on Rule ISO 50001, environmental rules (Rule UNE-EN-ISO 14001) and sustainable mining management (Rules UNE 22480 and UNE 22470).
Finally, and once the mining operation is finished, the lake’s vessel will be conditioned to enhance the birdlife settlement.
No. During the activity the dispersion of dust will be minimized through several measures: placement of screens of topsoil, maintenance of tree vegetation spots, progressive restoration of the dump, irrigation of slopes, etc.
To guarantee the minimum impact, the wind direction has been analyzed. The predominance of southwestern winds (link) will mitigate any possible impact on the atmospheric quality of Cáceres. During the summer months, more sensitive for this point, the dominant wind direction blows from the west. In any case, when winds blow from the east during this period, dust suppression measures will be reinforced.
In addition, the proximity between the quarry and the factory, and between these and road infrastructures, will make the impact of road transport low and, consequently, the particles dispersed by the transfer of vehicles will be minimized.
Another way of limiting any dust is the use of water carts to suppress dust. Any eventual dust is inert and doesn’t contain any chemicals. Moreover, less material will be extracted from the mine than initially planned, therefore reducing the amount of rock carried.
Lastly, a vegetal wall will also stop eventual dust from traveling.
Yes, sustainability has guided the project from its initial conception. The elements of the industrial and mining project have been designed with the objective of minimizing the impact on the environment. For this, the possible affections have been analyzed in detail and measures of protection, correction and rehabilitation of the affected space are proposed.
In a constant effort to safeguard and coexist with the environment, the project will go beyond what is set by the strict European regulations.
The project tailings (waste) is not a mud or slurry material. It is more like moist sand called “Dry Stack Tailings” and is essentially rock, ground rock, sand and clays that allow the immediate revegetation and rehabilitation to commence. The project has investment huge amounts of capital to recycle water and ensure that the outputs are NOT settled in slurry ponds (40-70% water) which would of course be cheaper, but not allow for the return of the area to its native vegetation state.
As opposed to slurry, our tailings contain little water and are safe to store without a need for a pond. A dry stacked tailings process results in initially 20-25% water content in tailings which is then further utilized through a recirculation design. This is achieved through global leading practices through correct stacking and installation of piping. Drainage channels a large amount of this contained water where it is then captured and reused.
Overall: more than 99% of the waste is inert, benign and not treated with any chemicals. Over 80% of all waste material that will be stored on site is just crushed rock.
The dry stacked tailings materials come from various stages in the process:
--- Rock from the pit (typically 10-80cm size) which is not processed.
--- Small rocks which are reject from flotation separation of non-lithium bearing rock (typically <1cm size).
--- Roasted rock residue (<1mm size).
The remaining 1% is treated to produce lithium hydroxide and this involves application of some common industrial processing chemicals in small amounts to change pH levels and allow precipitation of products. These are all neutralized prior to being stored.
TEL has halved the amount of waste that will be stored since its first application was lodged through the implication of global best practices.
The project will manage water that will come from two main sources:
--- Recycled from the water treatment plan of Cáceres (EDAR).
--- Recycled water from tailings and recirculated process water treated through water purification. The project will invest in a Reverse Osmosis plant to purify the recycled water use in a closed circuit.
The project will not discharge water into the environment.
As opposed to what has been communicated wrongly in the press during the last months, the size of the pit will be significantly smaller than represented by a number of parties.
TEL has carried significant work to reduce the size of the open pit. Open pit operations are safer than underground mining. Both the volume extracted from the ground and the size of the pit have been reduced. The maximum size of the pit, after 19 years of extraction, will be 668m by 454m.
No, the water will come from the Cáceres wastewater treatment plant. In addition, leaks to the aquifer are technically impossible. Even from a purely geological perspective, there can be no contact between the activities of the deposit and the Calerizo.
Furthermore, global best practices in factory design recycle a majority of the water used and the project will utilize their own reverse osmosis plant. The project will also benefit from the collection or rainwater and an extensive collection network for use in the factory.
San José Valdeflórez will involve an initial investment of 280 million euros, of which 83% of it will be allocated for the construction of an industrial plant in Cáceres dedicated to the processing of the material until obtaining lithium hydroxide.
During the construction phase, estimated at around 20 months, between 80 and 285 direct jobs will be created. At this stage, the company will invest more than 45M€ in salaries.
On the other hand, the operational phase will generate more than 186 direct jobs. Of these, 135 will be dedicated to processing (73% of the total); 32 in mining (17%); and the remaining 19, in the administration area, which represents 10% of the project staff.
San José Valdeflórez will also offer quality jobs with a much higher than average allowance. The average salary estimate stands at 46,500€ per year, while according to the National Statistics Institute the average annual gross salary of Extremadura was 18,445 euros in 2017, the lowest in Spain.
In addition, around 800 indirect jobs will be generated arising from activities such as maintenance, construction, logistics, consulting or security services.
The extractive part of the project will require 32 direct jobs: 4 in management, at least 17 specialist technicians and 11 operators specialized in heavy machinery.
Meanwhile, the processing plant will employ a total of 135 workers, of which 72 will be operators and another 30 will be employed for specific plant jobs (engineers, craftsmen, maintenance, etc.). The lab will have a team of 13 people, the administrative and environmental protection sections will be made up of 10 workers, and the plant will be managed by another 10 professionals.
On the other hand, 19 vacancies will be filled to handle the general management of the office and the administration of the company.
New hirings, as well as existing employees, will be subject to constant training, in order to maintain an updated technical proficiency based on the highest professional standards in the industry.
San José Valdeflórez is likely to attract other investments to the region, since lithium is a key element in the entire value chain of electric mobility, an industry where proximity, integration and collaboration are essential.
Producers of cathodes and batteries, as well as manufacturers of electric vehicles and all auxiliary companies to the automobile sector, are among the potential investors in the region.
The development model to be replicated is the one implemented in Western Australia, which has created a “Lithium Valley” that has resulted in millions in investment, thousands of jobs and has contributed to the growth of the economy of the area.
In addition to creating direct employment, the investment in the region of the project San José Valdeflórez will also generate business opportunities and growth for a number of local small and medium businesses, it will attract industry and provide constant development and income, thereby revitalizing the local economy.
Not forgetting the 800 indirect jobs arising from activities such as maintenance, construction, public works, utilities, repair of machinery, logistics, consulting, environmental labs or rehabilitation, cleaning and security services, among others.
San José Valdeflórez will serve to energize the economy at all levels to create a new industrial hub in which both old and new company live together, reinvigorate the region, generating employment and slowing down depopulation.
Tecnología Extremeña del Litio (TEL), is the consortium in charge of the development of San José Valdeflórez, a joint venture composed of 25% by Valoriza Minería (a subsidiary of Sacyr) and 75% by Infinity Lithium, which leads the project.
Infinity Lithium Corporation Limited is an Australian company listed on the Australian Stock Market (ASX) and that has professionals with extensive experience in the development of industrial projects, finance and corporate operations, as well as a deep knowledge of the sector of the lithium and geology. You can know who we are in the "Team" section (link).
Since its founding in 2016, the company has always had its tax base in the city of Cáceres.
It is estimated that TEL will contribute more than 900 million in taxes throughout the project life cycle, of which a significant part will go to municipal coffers.
In addition, it will pay over 96 million euros during the 2 years of the construction phase and a total of over 236 million euros during the 30 years of operation. This money will be injected directly into the local and regional economic fabric.
Infinity Lithium is firmly committed to Cáceres and its inhabitants. The company will reinvest part of its profits in the development of plans that improve the environment and quality of life of Cáceres residents.
Throughout the development of the whole project, the company will maintain an open dialogue with the various social agents in order to listen to their needs and perfect those aspects that improve the well-being of Cáceres residents, both in terms of employment and society as well as the environment, contributing to the continuous training of the youngest people, the quality of life of citizens and the generation of a better and more stimulating environment.
As an example, the rehabilitation plan proposed at present, which contemplates that the mine will be transformed into an artificial lake when the extraction is finished, 19 years after the project began. This lake can be used for playful use and recreational activities, which will endow Cáceres with a new leisure element.