Imerys picks two key sites in Allier region, France, for its lithium extraction and transformation project, EMILI; initiative aims to enhance the European battery industry for electric vehicles and aid the energy transition

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January 29, 2024 (press release) –

 

Imerys has just announced the selection of two key sites in the Allier region in France for its lithium extraction and transformation project, EMILI. This move is part of an ambitious initiative to strengthen the European battery industry for electric vehicles and contribute to the energy transition. 

Two sites chosen for the installation of a plant and a loading facility 

The EMILI (Exploitation of Lithiniferous Mica by Imerys) project aims to develop a lithium mine at the Beauvoir site in Échassières, Allier, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in France. The Group has just confirmed that it’s considering the La Loue site, located in an industrial zone in the commune of Saint-Victor, near Montluçon (Allier), for a conversion plant. This decision should enable the use of existing railway infrastructure and logistics without trucks: the lithiniferous mica concentrate will be transported by a pipeline from Échassières to a loading workshop in Saint-Bonnet-de-Rochefort and Naves (Allier). The ore will then transit via the existing Gannat-Montluçon railway line to the future conversion plant, where it will be transformed into lithium hydroxide.

Allier, a future center of excellence for lithium in electric vehicle batteries

By concentrating all EMILI project sites in Allier, Imerys intends to create a genuine center of expertise in the production of lithium for batteries, thereby contributing to the economic vitality of the department. This geographical proximity, combined with the use of the existing rail network, should also help minimize the carbon footprint of lithium exploitation in Beauvoir. 

A milestone for Imerys' EMILI project

The selection of these two sites marks a significant step forward in the development of the EMILI project, launched by Imerys in October 2022. This announcement comes after a laboratory testing campaign that culminated in the production of the very first samples of battery-grade lithium hydroxide in June 2023. The next steps include trials in a pilot plant, as well as the opening of a public debate in March 2024,  organized by the CNDP (National Commission for Public Debate). Imerys is conducting this project in consultation with all stakeholders to ensure responsible and sustainable mining.

Lithium production "made in France" to support Europe’s energy transition

From 2028, the La Loue conversion plant is expected to produce 34,000 tons of lithium hydroxide annually, which will be used to manufacture batteries to power the equivalent of 700,000 electric vehicles. The EMILI project is part of Imerys' commitment to strengthen the battery industry in the European Union and to support the transition to low-carbon mobility in response to current climate challenges.

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