19 Feb 2024, 13:29
Benjamin Wehrmann

Eastern German Saxony-Anhalt includes lithium extraction in state development plan

Volksstimme / SWR

The government of Saxony-Anhalt plans to explore the extraction of “battery-grade” lithium in the eastern German state, the newspaper Volksstimme reported. Deposits in the Altmark region have been known for decades, but only entered into the development plan of the state government for the first time during a planning revision scheduled for 2024. The mineral is crucial for producing lithium-ion batteries for electric cars and other uses. Saxony-Anhalt’s infrastructure minister, Lydia Hüskens, presented a draft of the revised plan, stating that there are “advanced plans” for establishing direct lithium extraction in the state, which also still has a sizeable coal mining industry. The lithium reserves are located at a depth of more than 3,500 metres in an area that holds natural gas deposits, for which the state government has also not excluded extraction. Lithium extraction could be coupled with geothermal energy generation, the draft seen by Volksstimme said. Minister Hüskens stressed that the government “only secures deposits” and would not participate in mining activities, which are still subject to a licensing procedure.

Lithium extraction plans in other regions in Germany have previously caused controversies, for example in western state Rhineland-Palatinate. Critics of the mining plans have argued that lithium extraction could contaminate ground water reserves with lead, quicksilver, arsenic or other poisonous substances, public broadcaster SWR reported. Moreover, lithium extraction requires great quantities of water, which could become a problem in regions like Saxony-Anhalt that have been hit by severe droughts in recent years, the Volksstimme said.

Geoscientific researchers last year found that Germany could cover a sizable portion of its lithium needs in the coming decades by extracting the metal from existing domestic geothermal wells, especially in the western Upper Rhine Valley and in the North German plains. However, no sizeable extraction projects have been launched so far. Facilitating raw material extraction within Germany to increase resilience has been declared a political aim by the government. However, there is currently no timetable for achieving individual domestic supply targets.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
« previous news next news »


Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee