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Eramet targets 10,000 tonnes of lithium per year in French project

PARIS (Reuters) - Mining group Eramet said on Thursday it could produce 10,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year in France in a geothermal project with power company Electricite de Strasbourg (ES).

Eramet and ES in a statement announced an agreement to study potential production, which could start by the end of the decade, after obtaining lithium from geothermal waters in eastern France from exploration in recent years.

Eramet has added lithium to its activities as part of a shift towards minerals needed for electric vehicle batteries.

It plans to start producing lithium next year in Argentina in a joint venture with Chinese steel group Tsingshan, with an initial annual output objective of 24,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent.

Eramet is among companies testing geothermal extraction of lithium in the Rhine basin near the French-German border.

A final investment decision by Eramet and ES on production is expected within four years, they said, adding their targetted lithium output would meet demand for around 250,000 electric vehicle batteries per year.

The project could bolster French supply of lithium after mineral group Imerys last year announced plans to produce 34,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide annually from 2028 in central France.

Eramet is also planning to develop recycling of electric vehicle batteries in France with Suez.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz; editing by Jason Neely)