UK’s first lithium mine set for Cornwall
British Lithium and mining firm Imerys have announced a joint venture aimed at forming UK’s first integrated producer of battery-grade lithium carbonate, in an effort to meet the growing battery demand for electric vehicles (EVs).
The project will include the development of a quarry, a beneficiation plant, and a conversion unit co-located on Imerys brownfield site in Cornwall to produce high-purity lithium.
According to the company, the resources can potentially equip 500,000 EVs annually, by the end of the decade, meeting 66% of Britain’s estimated battery demand by 2030.
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “This joint venture between Imerys and British Lithium will strengthen our domestic supply of critical minerals, which is vitally important as we seek to grow the UK’s advanced manufacturing industry and help create the jobs of the future.
“This partnership shows again that the UK remains an attractive destination for international investment and will boost economic prosperity, support green industries, and bolster our energy security – not only in Cornwall, but right across the UK.”
Imerys has offered its Cornwall-based lithium mineral resources, land, and infrastructure for an 80% stake in the joint venture, while the remaining 20% includes British Lithium’s lithium processing technology, technical team, and lithium pilot plant.
Since 2017, British Lithium has carried out drilling and exploration on Imerys-owned land in Cornwall and developed a pilot plant to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.
Estimated mineral resources from the site are around 161 million tonnes, with the life of the mine exceeding 30 years at a production rate of 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent per year.
The drilling programme and pre-feasibility study (PFS) are in progress.
Imerys’ chief executive officer Alessandro Dazza said: “This acquisition is a milestone in Imerys’ journey to becoming a key partner in the energy transition.
“We look forward to unlocking the joint potential of British Lithium and Imerys to make Cornwall a successful lithium hub, building on its centuries-old mining heritage.”
The transaction has been approved by the UK Government, under the National Security Investment Act protocol, in a bid to reduce the UK’s dependence on critical raw materials imports.
The site will provide a welcome, UK-based boost to efforts to meet growing EV demand.
According to a report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last year, it is estimated that 59% of all cars, vans and other light vehicles sold globally in 2035 will be battery-electric – either fully electric or hybrid with a battery.
The report predicts that expanding mining projects will enable global lithium supply to continue exceeding demand until at least 2025, and potentially 2030. However, it estimates a 4% shortfall between supply and demand in 2030.
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