Photo by Shane McLendon on Unsplash

Ukraine has loads of rare minerals which are ready to be mined. China is now showing an interest in mining lithium in Ukraine. 

The Chinese Shenzhen Chengxin Lithium Group is trying to obtain a permit to mine lithium in Ukraine, writes the media Nadra Info. The media adds that the Chinese company is interested in buying the right to two plots of land from Gosgeonadr, the state Geology Service, in Dobra and Kruta Balka as well as in the Shevchenkovskiy deposit.

Ukraine has large deposits of rare minerals such as lithium which are attracting much attention from abroad. While the Chinese company is applying for permits, it is far from the only one trying to secure those lands. Nadra Info reports that several companies are interested such as Petro-Consulting LLC and MillStone & Co.

“I know that investors constantly come to Gosgeonadr in search of vacant plots, which are in particular interested in lithium facilities. And this is the job of the Service – to communicate about it. I did not know about the specific application from the Chinese company yet. But I want to remind you that we are in the courts (for the right to develop the Dobra site and the Shevchenkivske deposit). And until the trials are completed, there can be no question of any auction (for the sale of rights to these objects),” said Mykhailo Zhernov, Co-founder of MillStone & Co, to Nadra Info.

The many rare minerals in Ukraine

Ukrainenu has previously written about the vast rare minerals in Ukraine as the U.S and China are increasingly fighting over access to these important resources such as lithium and titanium. They are important for the green energy transition and several other sectors, where lithium, for example, is used in batteries.

Ukraine is not one of the world’s largest producers of rare minerals but holds large untapped concentrations of rare minerals in the subsoil. The site Mining World points out that the only problem is that Ukraine is not doing anything to extract them and that the country needs investments from outside.

“Ukraine’s subsurface resources include a concentration of around a hundred types of minerals, the market value of which is estimated by experts to reach $7.5 trillion USD. In total, Ukraine’s mineral resource base is formed of 20,000 deposits and ore manifestations, of which 7,800 are explored, and only 3,300 are being developed,” writes Mining World, “Ukraine harbors significant reserves of non-ferrous and rare-earth metals including unique deposits of beryllium, zirconium, tantalum, and a complex of phosphoric rare-earth and rare-metal ores.” 

“Ukraine’s confirmed reserves of lithium are the largest in Europe. The country also has a real opportunity to enter the global market with pure and ultra-pure metals such as gallium, indium, thallium, lead, and tin,” the site points out. 

World Data Center’s National Atlas of Ukraine also points out that the Ukrainian resources of rare minerals are unique and the largest in Europe. 

“Ukraine is a rare-metal province: the recoverable rare-metal resources are the biggest in Europe. The most important is the Ukrainian shield with its 22 rare-metal formations. The most unique and large are such deposits: Perha of beryllium; Azov of zirconium and rare-earth series; Polokhivka, Stankuvate, and Shevchenko of lithium; Mazurivka of tantalum-niobium-zirconium ores,” the site points out. 

A memorandum of understanding with the EU

Recently, the EU and Ukraine signed a memorandum of understanding about the exploration of raw materials and batteries, which Ukraine hopes will bring investments and jobs to Ukraine, explained Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal.

“Developing cooperation with the EU… is of strategic importance to us and will help integrate mineral supply chains and strengthen strategic resilience during post-pandemic recovery,” said Shmygal.

It is still unclear how much and potentially when the EU will invest in extracting rare minerals in Ukraine. According to Reuters, the EU receives 98 percent of their rare raw materials such as bauxite, lithium, titanium, and strontium from China. The EU expects that the EU’s need for lithium will grow 18 times by 2030 and 60 times by 2050 and is, therefore, looking for alternative deposits such as in Ukraine. 

Can help Ukraine reach its potential

The question is also how EU companies or other companies will conduct their business in Ukraine and whether the exploration of rare minerals in Ukraine will bring jobs to Ukraine. For example, will Ukraine simply be selling its rare minerals as a raw material, which will then be processed in the EU, or will Ukraine play a role in electronics manufacturing? 

Ukrainenu previously spoke to the Managing Director of Banke APS, Rasmus Banke, who expressed hope that Ukraine will get a role in manufacturing. 

“The country lacks investments. It is not enough that companies like ours come here or that some companies move production here. The country also needs investments in producing its own products,” said Banke, “Ukraine has large deposits of Lithium, which holds great potential. Still, I fear that foreign companies will simply come here, buy the mines and take the lithium away. Ukraine needs things to be produced here.”

“The sky’s the limit in Ukraine,” said Banke, “I like to come to this country, but I also get sad from time to time. There is such great potential here, and the green energy transition just adds another layer, but the country needs investments.”