11 Jun UK Government Backs Hunt For Lithium To Meet EV Demand
The UK government has backed a hunt for lithium reserves in the country, as part of an effort to reduce reliance on foreign countries for the critical raw material needed in electric cars.
A £246m government-backed fund said it will sponsor a feasibility study into the possibility of extracting lithium, a lightweight metal used in all lithium-ion batteries, in the UK.
The study, called “Lithium for the UK,” will involve the start-up company Cornish Lithium, the Natural History Museum, and consultancy Wardell Armstong. A total of around £500,000 will be spent on the study by the Faraday Battery Challenge, which was set up by the government in October 2017.
“It is undoubtedly a recognition that building a battery industry in the UK without a supply chain is an error,” Jeremy Wrathall, chief executive of Cornish Lithium, said. “Especially when there’s potentially one on your doorstep.”
The UK and European car industry is currently reliant on companies in Asia for supplies of lithium-ion batteries, which make up a large portion of the cost of an electric car.
The batteries are made containing lithium that is extracted from Australia and Chile and then processed in China.
Over the past few years Chinese companies have expanded rapidly into the whole battery supply chain, buying up lithium mines in Australia and building large battery factories in China.
But China’s dominance in the battery supply chain has raised concerns among officials and companies in Europe and the US.
The Natural History Museum warned this week that the UK would not be able to meet a target for all cars to be electric by 2050 without investment in raw materials extraction.
“The UK itself has potential for some of the metals needed for these new vehicles, but currently we do not have a clear measure of that local potential,” academics led by Richard Herrington, head of earth sciences at the Natural History Museum, said. “Society needs to understand that there is a raw material cost of going green.”
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