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Prime minister to consult lawyers on lithium memorandum

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Prague, Oct 17 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister and Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka will consult lawyers on the lithium memorandum for the abrogation of which the Chamber of Deputies asked the government on Monday night, government spokesman Martin Ayrer told CTK on Tuesday.

Sobotka will wait until the resolution of the lower house of parliament is delivered to the Government Office.

“Then he wants to ask experts to comment on the resolution and recommend further steps. The memorandum that the Chamber of Deputies debated on Monday is unbinding and has no legal consequences. Besides, the government is not its participant,” Ayrer said.

ANO ministers were pushing for the abrogation of the memorandum in the government last week, but in vain.

Lubomir Zaoralek, CSSD leader for the upcoming general election to be held on October 20-21, told reporters that the lithium case was just to cover up real problems before the weekend elections, in particular the suspicious deals of ANO leader Andrej Babis.

“This [lithium mining in north Bohemia] was a chance for people in the Usti Region to get jobs. If we start leading legal disputes and waging war, the lithium mining project will be scrapped,” he said.

The memorandum on lithium mining was signed by Industry and Trade Minister Jiri Havlicek (CSSD) with the Australian firm European Metals Holdings (EMH) two weeks ago.

Miners will also take some time to analyse the MPs’ resolution, Richard Pavlik, director of the Geomet company, which is owned by EMH, said.

According to deputies, lithium should be extracted in the Czech Republic by a state company.

The resolution is not binding on the government because the lower house is not empowered to assign tasks to it.

The MPs asked the government to declare the memorandum annulled for its evidently unclear objective. In addition, the opposition Communists (KSCM) pushed through an article saying that the memorandum was not binding and cannot have any influence on possible arbitrations based on investments protection agreements.

The Senate, the upper house of parliament, where the CSSD predominates, called on the ANO and KSCM politicians not to put their political interests and election campaign above the interests of the Czech Republic.

According to estimates, the Czech Republic has around 3 percent of all global lithium reserves, most of them in Cinovec in the Ore Mountains, north Bohemia, and a small deposit is in the Slavkovsky les protected landscape area, west Bohemia. Geomet plans underground lithium mining. The company wants to open an old tin mine for the purpose.

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