PM determined to keep lithium mining in state hands, as EMH starts exploratory drilling
The Australian-based mining company European Metals Holdings is continuing with preparations for lithium mining in the Czech Republic, despite the fact that the Czech government does not consider the memorandum on the extraction and processing of lithium, signed with EMH last year, legally binding and wants a Czech state-run company to mine and process the deposits. The company Geomet, which is part of EMH, has begun preparations for a series of drills near Cínovec in order to ascertain the economic viability of the project.
Although the Babiš government declared the memorandum signed with EMH nil and void, the company claims it is not the memorandum which guarantees its rights, but the prospecting license for natural resources held by the firm Geomet, which is part of EMH.
The memorandum signed with EMH by the former Social Democrat trade minister Jiří Havlíček ahead of last October’s general elections caused an uproar in the lower house where opposition deputies and even ANO members of the then-coalition government accused the Social Democrats of selling out the country’s national interests by handing the mining rights to one of the largest lithium deposits in Europe to a foreign company.
Since winning the elections, Prime Minister Babiš has pushed for lithium mining in the country to be in the hands of a state-run company – ideally the state enterprise Diamo. He said he planned to meet with Industry Minister Marta Nováková and Environment Minister Richard Brabec to discuss the possibilities and called on the company Diamo to be more active and come up with a project which would keep lithium mining in Czech hands. In response to developments this week, the prime minister said that the question of who would be given the right to mine and process the country’s reserves of lithium was still open.