The UK government will fund a study to assess the feasibility of developing a UK supply of lithium, a consortium comprising mining consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong, explorer Cornish Lithium and the Natural History Museum has announced.
The ‘Lithium for the UK’ project aims to help meet the increase in demand for the battery metal anticipated from the transition to electric vehicles (EVs).
The study forms part of the Faraday Battery Challenge – a £246-million government investment into battery technology.
The consortium believes this feasibility study is a vital first step in securing a domestic supply of lithium for the UK battery and automotive industries.
Armstrong research director and project coordinator Dr Chris Broadbent said on Tuesday that the UK was reliant on imported lithium compounds, with the vast majority supplied from China for use in lithium-ion batteries that would power the EVs of the future.
“This is the first project funded by the Faraday Battery Challenge that examines the potential to provide lithium from UK sources, including rocks and brines. I believe it can be of great significance to development and the creation of a 21st century, green mining industry in the UK.”
Jeremy Wrathall, the CEO of Cornish Lithium, described the study as a “historic opportunity” for the tin mining region of Cornwall to participate in the development of a possible source of lithium for the UK.
Cornish Lithium is exploring for lithium within the hot springs that naturally occur beneath the surface in, and around, Cornish granites.
Wrathall believes that Cornwall has significant potential as a “lithium province”, given the widespread presence of lithium-enriched granites.