Cornwall has long been associated with tin and copper extraction. Cornish Lithium, by undertaking one of the largest unified exploration projects in the history of Cornwall, sees the potential to move Cornish mining into the 21st century.
The company is focused on exploring for lithium within the hot springs that naturally occur beneath the surface in and around Cornish granites, with the aim to create a new high-tech, environmentally responsible mining industry in the region. Lithium was first identified in hot springs in 1864 by Professor Miller of Kings College, London, who noted that the occurrence of “so large an amount of lithium” in hot springs could be commercially significant. At that time there was little use for lithium and no method of commercial extraction. Such occurrences continued to be of great interest and were sampled and monitored in several mines right up until the closure of South Crofty in 1998.
Increasing global demand for battery storage is driving an increase in demand for lithium which is a vital component of many battery technologies: for powering electric vehicles and storing intermittent electricity from renewable energy sources. Suitable extraction technology is rapidly being developed around the world to extract new sources of lithium, such as within geothermal brines, making these deposits now worthy of further investigation.
Although substitution is a small risk, the world’s leading battery and electric vehicle makers have invested billions in lithium-ion battery technology and in building lithium ion battery plants, such as Tesla’s well known “Gigafactory.” It therefore appears likely that lithium-ion will be the technology of choice for many years to come. Many up and coming technologies such as solid state batteries and lithium suphur batteries require ever increasing amounts of lithium. Cornwall is host to one of the world’s greatest “metallogenic provinces” and has the potential to provide a source of some of these raw battery materials.
In Cornwall lithium is contained within geothermal fluids which circulate deep within sub-surface rocks
Recently developed technology allows lithium extraction from brine over a very short period of time yielding up to 99.9% purity
Rechargeable lithium-ion battery consumption is driving strong demand growth for the foreseeable future
Cornish Lithium has recognised the commercial potential of lithium contained in geothermal brines in Cornwall
Demand for Lithium has never been stronger, with Goldman Sachs calling it “the new gasoline” suggesting demand could triple by 2025
The time is right for the creation of a new lithium extraction industry for Cornwall, securing a UK supply of battery raw materials
Cornish Lithium is undertaking the largest single unified exploration programme in Cornwall’s history
Rights have been secured to explore for and commercially extract lithium and develop geothermal energy contained in the Cornish hot springs