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UK set to gain first lithium mine to boost electric vehicle industry

The date of: 2023-07-07
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Following a deal between British Lithium and Imerys, the UK’s first lithium mine is set to be established in Cornwall.

Imerys, the world leader in mineral-based speciality solutions has acquired an 80% stake in British Lithium. With financial support from the UK Government, the two companies plan to combine their expertise to establish the first lithium mine in Cornwall.

British Lithium has carried out drilling and exploration on Imerys-owned land in Cornwall since 2017. They have since developed a unique process and pilot plant to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.

The mine will produce enough lithium to equip 500,000 EVs a year

Following drilling and resource definition, inferred mineral resources are estimated at 161 million tonnes at a grade of 0.54% lithium oxide.

The resources give sufficient confidence to target a life of mine exceeding 30 years. The production rate of project is targeted to be 200,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent per year.

This is potentially enough to equip 500,000 electric vehicles per year by the end of the decade. The new mine will help meet around two-thirds of Britain’s battery demand by 2030 – when all UK car manufacturers convert to electric vehicles.

Developing the mine will help reduce import dependence

The transaction has been approved by the UK Government, under the National Security Investment Act protocol.

Establishing the project will reduce the UK’s and Europe’s dependence on critical raw material imports. This will help achieve European and British climate targets and assist in the creation of the first fully integrated region EV value chain.

The project is set to generate new jobs and foster economic growth in the region

The establishment of the project in Cornwall builds upon Imerys’ deep commitment to the UK.

Currently, the group employs 1,100 people across the UK, of which 830 are located in Cornwall. This includes five world-class open-pit mine sites in Cornwall and Devon.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “This joint venture 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.”

Roderick Smith, Chairman of British Lithium, added: “After working closely with Imerys for several years, the Directors, shareholders, and staff of British Lithium are delighted to formalise their partnership with Imerys and are confident that this alignment of interests will propel us toward continued rapid progress. This marks a key milestone for British Lithium, Imerys, and the entire battery industry, as they embark on a journey to establish a sustainable future for lithium production in the United Kingdom.”

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