£500k grant given to explore lithium mining in Cornwall

By Jonathan Campion
British Lithium Limited will research and develop hard rock lithium extraction, which is vital for the production of electric car batteries...

The Cornwall-based company has received £500,000 funding from the government to continue its work in the St. Austell area. It is hoped that if a British firm is successful in extracting lithium, it will be possible to attract electric car battery gigafactories to open in the UK.

The fact that lithium is relatively light and highly reactive makes it ideal for use in batteries. The batteries used to power electric cars are one of the most lucrative uses of lithium. Furthermore, the sector is growing: global sales of zero-emission vehicles have grown by over 150% in 2020.

British Lithium Limited won the grant on the basis of the company’s preliminary economic assessment (PEA) - a technical feasibility study into the viability of the mining project - and its declaration of a Joint Ore Reserve Committee (JORE). This makes it the first company in the UK to have established a resource.

The chairman of British Lithium Limited, Roderick Smith, commented: “We have undertaken many years of metallurgical research to develop a unique process for extracting lithium from micaceous granite – something never done commercially before. We have our own laboratory in Roche and our aim is to build a quarry and refinery in Cornwall that will produce 20,000 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate”.

While cars are Great Britain’s biggest export by value, only one lithium battery gigafactory is currently being planned.  

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