Cornish startup aims to be Europe’s main source of lithium

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Cornish Lithium plans to explore for, and to potentially develop, lithium contained in underground hot spring brines in Cornwall. It has also obtained a license to use the thermal energy from the springs to generate electricity

The presence of lithium in hot spring brines in Cornwall has been known since the mid-1800s when tin was the major product from mines in the region. Rather than mining ore, new extraction technology now offers the potential to extract lithium from these hot spring brines and to supply product to the rapidly growing battery market for electric cars and for power storage.

Cornish Lithium has entered into definitive mineral rights agreements with Canadian mining company Strongbow Exploration and Mineral Exploration to carry out exploration for, and development of, lithium in the hot spring brines on the Tregothnan Estate. This would to be the largest, single, unified mineral exploration programme in Cornwall’s history. Negotiations are ongoing with other owners of mineral rights within Cornwall.

The UK Government has defined lithium as a metal of strategic importance to the country and the majority of lithium produced today comes from South America, Australia and China. Cornish Lithium is raising £5m for the development that it believes could be the major European supplier of the metal. Most major vehicle manufacturers have outlined an electric car development programme with some manufacturers expecting 25 per cent of their sales to be electric vehicles by 2025. 

“We are delighted to have signed agreements with Strongbow Exploration, Mineral Exploration Limited and Tregothnan Estates to explore for, and to commercially develop, lithium contained in hot spring brines.  The rights secured cover the key areas of interest based on historic recordings of lithium in such springs, allowing us to further investigate these occurrences and to identify potential sites for commercial extraction facilities,” said Jeremy Wrathall, CEO of Cornish Lithium.”Cornish Lithium has been set up to explore the potential for a lithium industry in the UK; which would give the country significant strategic advantages in a world increasingly focussed on zero emissions and renewable power.  We believe the potential benefits of developing a lithium industry in Cornwall will be significant for the county and for the UK as a whole.2

“Although this project is still at an early stage it is very exciting news,” said Professor Kip Jeffrey, Head of Camborne School of Mines which is a global centre of excellence for mining technology. “If successful, it will be good for the whole of Cornwall and I believe will also have wider potential implications for the whole of the UK. In recent years’ too few of our young people have aspired to become mining engineers or geologists despite these being well paid and exciting careers. “With the developments at Wolf Minerals, Strongbow and Cornish Lithium in the south west, Sirius in Yorkshire and Dalradian in Northern Ireland, I hope that we will see an increase in undergraduates interested in all aspects of mining. We can develop generations of young people with skills to export around the world and I look forward to working with them as Camborne School of Mines plays its part.”



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