EMILI Project Overview
Imerys, a leader in special minerals for industry, has launched a lithium mining project at its Beauvoir site in Echassières (Allier). This EMILI project (Imerys Lithiniferous Mica Mining) contributes to the dual challenge of the energy transition and Europe’s economic independence. It will contribute to creating an integrated European battery industry for electric vehicles by offering a local solution for one of the most critical materials required, lithium. It will be one of Europe’s largest lithium extraction projects, offering a long-term solution that reflects Europe’s decarbonization goals.
Although the extraction of kaolin, an altered part of Beauvoir granite, began in the 19th century, it was not until the 1960s that lithium was identified in the unaltered part of the deposit. The origins of the Beauvoir site and extraction of its kaolin go back to the 19th century.
Then, in 2015, Imerys applied for and obtained an Exclusive Research Permit, renewed in 2021, in the context of which several drilling campaigns were launched, one of which will continue until the end of 2022. The results of the campaigns completed over the past 18 months have confirmed an economically attractive concentration and quantity of lithium.
Imerys is also studying the development, on a laboratory scale, of a process for extracting lithium from the Beauvoir deposit, based on demanding technical, economic and environmental criteria.
This project is more broadly in line with European goals for the energy transition and independence in strategic raw materials. It will enable Imerys to become a key supplier of lithium in Europe and a major force in the energy transition in France and Europe.
Energy transition and economic independence
Lithium is an essential component of batteries for electric vehicles. Driven by exponential projected growth in road transport electrification, its demand is expected to increase 10-fold in Europe by 2030.
This project will contribute to the EU’s 2050 carbon neutrality target and reduce the carbon footprint of road transport, where fuel-related emissions account for about 20% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2022.
Lithium is included in the list of critical raw materials established by the European Commission in 2020. The EMILI project will reduce Europe’s current total dependence on lithium for batteries, and more broadly contribute to an integrated, independent electric vehicle production chain, thus promoting French and European autonomy over a strategic raw material.
A responsible mining project that aims for IRMA certification
Imerys is designing this project according to the IRMA (Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance). This globally recognized standard sets forth best practices for operating responsibly and transparently.
IRMA certifies mining projects for which independent auditors have confirmed correct implementation of these practices, particularly concerning the environment and consultation.
Imerys intends to work with all local stakeholders (elected officials, associations, local residents, etc.) to co-build a project that respects and brings value to the territory.