Portugal: Portugal Has Lithium… And We Know It!

Last Updated: 20 March 2018
Article by Ana Oliveira Rocha

Lithium minerals have seen a rise in demand and price since 2011, which became even greater in 2016, and the expectation is that this rise will continue along with the growing demand for electric vehicles. Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in the United States and Asia and, worldwide, lithium production increased by around 13 percent from 2016 to 2017, reaching 43,000 MT last year.

Portugal qualifies as one of the top 10 lithium producers of the world – in sixth position and there are already some concessionaires carrying out exploration and production activities, with the year 2017 registering a production of 400 MT.

The country is getting ready to exploit its lithium minerals' potential given the interest shown (in May 2017 publicly available information is that at least 30 applications for lithium prospection and research rights were made and the number has grown significantly since then) and the favourable economic climate.

After assessing the best strategy, through the creation of a working committee involving representatives of associations and public entities connected to geological resources, at the end of January 2018, the Portuguese Government passed a resolution by its Council of Ministers approving the main strategic guidelines to exploit the potential of lithium minerals. This resolution is based on the report issued by the working committee – also subject to public consultation of the relevant stakeholders – which came to confirm that:

  • Lithium and its compounds are used by a broad range of industries, including ceramics and glass, industrial lubricants, medical uses, Li-ion batteries, and the aluminium and steel industries, among many others; meanwhile, the market remains dynamic, with a high and sustainable demand impacting price rise;
  • Although domestic geological potential is high, there is insufficient characterisation of the mineral occurrences and resource estimates, also as regards inferred resources, which should be developed by both the relevant state entities and private companies;
  • There are no studies as to the benefitiation (laboratorial or industrial) to support a strategy based on the respective implementation so as to increase domestic growth; and
  • There are no investigation or innovation initiatives in connection with the recycling of the lithium minerals from used batteries which, from a circular economy perspective, would reduce waste and the stress over lithium minerals in igneous rocks.

The most relevant challenge identified by this working committee is to find a lithium transformation process, as lithium requires a very high purity – of 99.5% – to enable its use in electric vehicle batteries. The working committee also highlighted that domestic lithium minerals may be upgraded to produce concentrates for the lithium compound industry

  • obtaining high-graded lithium concentrates
  • and the ceramics industry, guaranteeing consistency of the lithium content.

The Portuguese Council of Ministers thus passed a resolution on the main strategic guidelines to promote the domestic potential of lithium minerals, which revolve around:

  • Developing the geological knowledge that represents the starting point for lithium minerals exploitation by launching public tenders to award prospection and research rights, and rights for exploitation within previously designated areas revealing potential and comprising promising targets. The guidelines are also intended to ensure that the rights over areas to be attributed following the applications received take into account other factors which are detrimental to the viability of the development of the whole of the lithium related activities to their full extent.
  • It is further specified that the criteria for awarding the rights in question will be determined by order of the minister responsible for the sector (currently the Ministry of the Economy) and will give preference to the suitability of the work plans to the knowledge that already exists and the value of the investments to be made, in addition to the technical and financial capacity of the applicants jointly with the necessary compliance with environmental obligations.
  • Assessing the possibility of installing two technological units with different aims (Mining-Metallurgical Experimental Unit and Pilot Demonstration Unit, the latter with a declared industrial character), whilst pondering their economic and financial sustainability in light of the necessary required investments, the volume of resources subject to treatment, their location and the applicable financing model;
  • Promoting, within domestic, European and international financial instruments, investigation projects oriented towards the recovery of used batteries lithium minerals within a logic of supporting the principles of circular economy and minimising igneous rock use;
  • Considering the necessary management of waste generated from these activities with an efficient use of the resources, bearing in mind environmental impacts of these activities; and
  • Instructing the Minister of the Economy to proceed to the programming and scheduling of the integrated strategy for promotion of the Portuguese lithium minerals' potential so as to incentivise the activity of exploration and exploitation of this resource taking advantage of the favourable economic climate.

There are currently nine domestic lithium minerals rich regions identified (all located in north and central mainland Portugal).

Having said all this, and pending additional specific regulation, entities intending to carry out mining activities relating to geological resources into the public domain must enter into the appropriate concession agreement with the Portuguese State. The Government may direct concession proposals to specific private parties under public bid procedures in accordance with the applicable law.

The exploration and exploitation of other resources (such as mineral masses or water) is subject to a licensing prior to the filing of an application with the sectors' supervisory entity, the Directorate General for Energy and Geology (DGEG). Public authorities may only reject the application if the project in question is not viable or for other reasons, if justified in the public interest.

The concessionaires and licensees may assign their rights, upon complying with the conditions set out in the applicable legal framework and the relevant concession agreement, such as obtaining prior authorisation from the competent public authority.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions