01 Aug Cornish Lithium: Cornwall’s minerals reserves could power electric car revolution
Recharging an electric car (Image: Copyright unknown)
Global demand for lithium is forecast to triple by 2025 – thanks to the electric car revolution – and the answer could lie in Cornwall’s mineral reserves.
Increasing need for battery storage is driving demand for lithium, which is a vital component of many battery technologies, especially powering electric vehicles and storing renewable power.
The UK is currently reliant on imported lithium compounds – mostly from China – but Cornwall is home to one of the world’s greatest “metallogenic provinces”.
Now a Cornish company is undertaking the largest single unified exploration programme in Cornwall’s history, with the potential to create a new lithium extraction industry to supply battery raw materials.
Cornish Lithium is focusing on exploring for lithium within the hot springs that naturally occur beneath the surface in and around Cornish granites. The aim is to create a new high-tech, environmentally responsible mining industry in the region.
The company, which recently launched a £1m crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, has secured the rights to explore for and commercially extract lithium and develop geothermal energy contained in the hot springs.
Jeremy Wrathall, Founder & CEO of Cornish Lithium Ltd, said: “This is an historic opportunity for Cornwall to participate in the development of a possible source of lithium for the UK.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to re-evaluate the geological potential of Cornwall in light of the ‘Battery Revolution’ that is going to transform all our lives over the coming decades.
“The presence of lithium in geothermal brines offers significant transformational potential for the Cornish economy. Using modern technology, we can also see the great potential that remains in Cornwall for other metals which are vital in today’s society.”
Jeremy Wrathall, Founder & CEO of Cornish Lithium Ltd (Image: DCM)
Cornwall has long been associated with tin and copper mining, and lithium was first discovered in the county in hot springs in 1864.
Cornish Lithium was founded in 2016 and now employs a team of seven geologists and a digital archivist to evaluate lithium potential over 300 square kilometres of the county.
The company is compiling and digitising various sources of historic data to evaluate the optimal locations for extraction boreholes to be drilled.
Last month the Government granted funding for a new study to assess the feasibility of developing a UK supply of lithium.
The project, Lithium for the UK (“Li4UK”), aims to help meet the huge increase in demand for the battery metal anticipated and will be run by a consortium of Cornish Lithium, mining consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong and the Natural History Museum.
The funding is part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, designed to develop safe and efficient batteries in the UK to power the next generation of electric vehicles as part of a push for innovative energy solutions.
It forms part of the government’s drive to ‘maintain the UK as a world-leader in the latest technologies and emerging markets, through its modern Industrial Strategy.’ The Consortium will assess the feasibility of extracting and converting a supply of lithium from the UK in to battery-grade material.
The Faraday Battery Challenge brings together world-leading research and business to accelerate the research needed to develop battery technologies – a crucial move towards a net zero emissions economy in the UK, and a key contributor to all new cars and vans being zero emission by 2040.
The Consortium believes this feasibility study is a vital first step in securing a domestic supply of lithium for the UK battery and automotive industries.
The potential for Cornwall to be a global resource for mining operations, including high-technology metals, has been highlighted internationally as one of the UK’s ‘High Potential Opportunities’.
High Potential Opportunities, or HPOs, are part of the Government’s drive to attract more overseas investment and trade opportunities to the UK by showcasing national sector strengths and skills to global investors.
The HPO means Cornwall’s abundance of tech metals and mineral deposits, including tin, tungsten, lithium and silver, will be promoted as a globally significant resource with huge investment potential.
Why Lithium? Why Cornwall?
- Lithium is an essential component of modern batteries for environmentally friendly electric vehicles and for the storage of renewable power.
- The rapid adoption of electric vehicles has seen demand for lithium increase dramatically over recent years; a trend that is expected to accelerate in the coming decades. It has been called the “new gasoline”.
- Global demand for lithium is predicted to increase to 785,000 tonnes LCE (Roskill) by 2025, from 217,000 tonnes LCE in 2017 (Reuters). The mining industry needs to discover new sources of lithium to ensure supply can keep up with demand.
- Cornish Lithium believes that Cornwall potentially contains a very significant quantity of lithium in geothermal brines, making it a priority target for exploration.
- In Cornwall lithium is contained within geothermal fluids which circulate deep within sub-surface rocks.
- Cornish Lithium is using modern digital mapping and 3D modelling tools to assemble historic data into a model which can be easily interrogated and analysed.
- The potential for new discoveries in Cornwall has not been assessed for decades. Cornish Lithium is using cutting-edge techniques to better define lithium prospectivity across Cornwall.
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