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HN: Ministry attaches importance to rare metals mining

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Prague, May 31 (CTK) – The new concept of raw material policy prepared by the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry attaches a bigger importance to rare metals than in the past and it wants to find out how powerful their deposits are, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes on Tuesday.

HN writes that this is due to the fact that metals like lithium, niobium, wolfram and indium which were considered an unwanted waste left over after metal extraction in the whole world, now have a higher price than copper, zinc or tin.

Such rare metals are more and more important for industry, from car production to nanotechnologies. For instance, one kilogram of wolfram now costs 27 dollars per kilogram on commodity bourses, while the traditional copper is sold for less than five dollars, HN writes.

“Some metals are even mined mainly because of the admixtures, which constitute tenths of percent of the whole volume,” HN quotes Pavel Kavina, form the ministry, as saying.

A majority of important world deposits of rare metals lie outside Europe, mainly in China and Europe, which is also the biggest per-capita importer of them in the world, HN writes.

That is why the European Commission drew a list of originally 14 “critical” raw materials without which industry in the EU cannot do, HN writes.

The Czech Republic has potentially big sources of four critical raw materials, HN writes.

In addition to coking coal, which is mined in northern Moravia, they are mainly lithium, wolfram and fluorite that are mined in the Ore (Krusne) Mountains in west Bohemia, HN writes.

“It is early to speak about mining in case of all these raw materials. We do not know yet whether the mining would be economically viable,” Kavina said.

HN writes that the government has only taken note of the draft concept of the raw material policy and that an analysis of the impact of mining on the environment is yet to be made.

The Industry and Trade Ministry believes that a definitive decision will be made by the year’s end.

“The Czech Republic has only been explored in detail in relation to the traditional raw materials,” Kavina said.

He said he believes that it is also possible to gain the critical raw materials from the waste left over after the past mining.

Some Czech firms and an Australian one are also considering gaining lithium from waste, HN writes.

It writes that the Czech Republic has almost 6 percent of the world’s deposits of lithium.

HN writes that the resumption of fluorite mining which ended in the early 1990s is much less probable, also because the investments would be too high.

The plans of Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek can run into opposition at the Environment Ministry, however, which has not yet officially seen the raw material draft concept, HN writes.

The Environment Ministry’s spokeswoman, Petra Roubickova, said the ministry will not allow anything more but prospecting for and mining of gold and continued prospecting for and possible following mining of shale gas.

However, the Industry and Trade Ministry mentions neither of these two things in the draft concept, HN writes.

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