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Economy

British Firm Says Likely Greece Has Critical Minerals for Clean Energy Use

ATHENS – Greece’s hopes to get away from fossil fuels for greener and alternative energy sources could get a big boost in a report that the country seems to have bountiful sources of metals and semimetals needed for a transition to clean energy and other uses.

Those are “critical minerals” and officials at the Ministry of Environment and Energy Energy were said hopeful about the potential supplies after a presentation by the United Kingdom-based Rockfire Resources about the potential in Molaoi, southern Greece.

The company had already announced last year that it had discovered deposits of germanium and gallium, two of the abovementioned “critical minerals,” in addition to lead, silver and zinc.

Germanium is used in fiber-optics, infra-red optics, electronics and solar panels. Europe is dependent on imports and the main producer and exporter, China, has restricted exports for strategic reasons. It is rarely found concentrated, making extraction expensive.

Gallium can be extracted from bauxite, of which Greece has abundant deposits. Industrial conglomerate Mytilineos, which owns Aluminium of Greece, gave the European Union results of a pilot gallium extraction project, said Kathimerini.

That estimated that it could produce 40-45 metric tons of gallium annually, which would currently cover European demand, giving Greece a valuable export during a time when the EU is seeking to get away from Russian supplies and fossil fuels like coal.

Mytilineos is running two more pilot programs on bauxite residue, for the production of scandium and use in the cement industry. Scandium, a rare-earth metal, can be used in lasers and, mixed with aluminum, in the aerospace and electrical vehicle industries. Globally, only 12-14 tons are extracted annually, but it is estimated that, because of the expansion of electric vehicle production, demand will soar to more than 100 times that by 2035, the report said.

In their presentation to Energy Ministry officials, Rockfire Resources managers said that they will conduct more exploratory drilling and, after summer, will begin their viability study of the discovered source. The Molaoi asset also contains silver.

Other promising sites for critical minerals include the island of Chios (antimonite), the region near Xanthi, in the northeast (bismuth – a metal with wide applications including electronics and as replacement of lead in ammunition) and the whole coast between the Halkidiki peninsula and Alexandroupoli, in northern Greece, the report added.

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