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Czech utility luring battery producers as lithium mine decision nears

10th November 2023

By: Bloomberg

  

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Energy utility CEZ said it’s trying to attract car-battery producers to the Czech Republic as that would increase the benefits of a potential local lithium-mining project.

The biggest traded power producer in eastern Europe is “totally serious” about plans to extract the metal in the north of the country, CFO Martin Novak told reporters on Thursday. He said CEZ would make a final decision after completing mining and processing tests at the end of the year.

The Czech government, which owns 70% in CEZ, has made it a strategic priority to help local carmakers transition to electromobility because the industry is the biggest employer and exporter for the $300-billion economy. Those efforts recently stumbled when talks with Volkswagen AG about hosting a potential so-called gigafactory appeared to stall.

Novak said that while the plans to mine lithium — a key component for rechargeable electric vehicles — and make batteries were independent of each other, having both in the country would be a benefit.

“Lithium is a really big project, with teams of people working on it,” Novak said during a conference call after CEZ reported third-quarter earnings. “We are in talks with several companies about a potential battery plant at our sites, primarily in Prunerov, which would have some synergy in that it would be relatively close to the lithium mine.”

Separately, Novak said the company remained interested in potentially buying Czech natural-gas distributor GasNet because it might create “major synergies” with CEZ’s electricity distribution and other operations.

Edited by Bloomberg

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