19 Jan Deal to mine Cornwall for £70bn precious metal which powers the world
South Crofty mine in Cornwall
Cornwall has deposits of a precious metal dubbed ‘white petroleum’ – and the county could be in the verge of becoming a mining leader in a $70billion industrial revolution.
Lithium, which is vital for rechargeable batteries in just about every device from phones to cars, could be extracted from the granite beneath Cornwall’s landscape – making the duchy Europe’s only source of the valuable material.
In a major announcement made to the Stock Market this morning, private firm Cornish Lithium will confirm that it has secured the rights to develop the lithium deposits under Cornwall – undertaking the largest, single unified exploration project in the county’s history.
The firm is led by Camborne School of Mines graduate Jeremy Wrathall, a mining engineer who has worked with specialist investment banks.
“We are very excited with the potential for lithium in Cornwall” he said.
“We have been working on this idea for some time and are delighted that it has come to fruition. We believe it has the potential to be a major new industry in Cornwall.”
Lithium has been described as the ‘white petroleum’ by some analysts who predict it will help the world move away from fossil fuels and into a new era of battery powered energy.
Batteries with lithium, pictured below, as a core component are lighter, charge faster and last longer than traditional batteries and according to an assessment by bankers Goldman Sachs could “replace gasoline as the primary source of transportation fuel.”
According to Fortune magazine growing demand for lithium from the automobile industry is starting to outstrip supply and one intelligence report reported prices for the metal were up 28% last year, while some related products saw a 47% rise.
Cornish Lithium has signed agreements to develop RP potential deposits beneath the ground held by three main landowners in Cornwall, including the Tregothnan estate of Lord Falmouth and South Crofty in Pool, which is at the centre of a resurgence in tin mining.
Richard Williams, chief executive of Strongbow, the mines owner, said: ‘I think this is fantastic that Cornwall Lithium has developed a completely new exploration Idea. It Is a fantastic new opportunity for the mining industry.”
Jeremy Wrathall, of Cornish Lithium, and Richard Williams, of Strongbow.
Lithium has been named a strategically important mineral for the UK by the Government because of its importance for developing industries and scarcity.
At present. it is mainly mined in remote parts of Chile, Australia and Nevada in the USA but without a home grown source of lithium the UK would be vulnerable to shortfall as global demand increases.
The development in Cornwall will give the UK access to its own supply of the element, the market for which is expected to quadruple to $70billion by 2020.
The lithium occurs in natural. hot brine springs under Cornwall and extraction is said to be clean and environmentally friendly, as well as offering the prospects of generating geothermal energy.
South Crafty Mine, near Pool which as well as tin could also be the site of lithium deposits
High levels of lithium readings were first recognised in 1864 in water flowing Into Cornish mines.
Historically, the soft, volatile metal was regarded as a mere curiosity, as it effectively had no market and when the mines in Cornwall closed it was largely forgotten.
Cornish Lithium has identified the potential for these brines to be commercially extracted from deep water bearing structures via drill holes and believes that newly developed technology for extracting lithium offers the chance for a viable extraction industry across Cornwall.