Funds for pilot plant for UK lithium production

Funds for pilot plant for UK lithium production

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Cornish Lithium has secured additional funding to build a pilot lithium production plant in the UK.

The funding comes from Innovate UK through the Automotive Transformation Fund’s Scale up Readiness Validation competition. Supply of lithium in European for batteries for electric vehicles is a key requirement for a local supply chain as most lithium comes from Australia and China. Other projects are underway in Germany and the US to boost lithium production and before the war, the EU signed a deal to supply lithium from Ukraine.

British Lithium is also developing technology to produce lithium in Cornwall.

The funds will be used to build the hydrometallurgical section of a demonstration scale processing plant at the Trelith Processing Site near St Austell in Cornwall as part of the Trelavour Hard Rock Lithium Project.

The Demonstration Plant will comprise concentration and hydrometallurgical processing steps.  The first pre-concentration step will be via comminution and flotation to produce a lithium mica concentrate.

This concentrate will then be fed into the second processing step, a hydrometallurgical process, using the patented Lepidico L-Max and LOH-Max processing technologies which Cornish Lithium has an exclusive licence for to produce lithium hydroxide.

The hydrometallurgical section is expected to produce commercial samples of  lithium hydroxide for evaluation by end users such as battery producers and automotive OEMs. It will also produce samples of by-products such as gypsum, sulphate of potash, caesium and rubidium sulphate alum.

Following the recent completion of a scoping study for the Trelavour Hard Rock Lithium Project, the Demonstration Plant will form a critical input to the company’s feasibility study. Subject to the conclusions of the feasibility study, the plan is to build a commercial lithium extraction plant in Cornwall with the production of lithium hydroxide expected to commence in 2026.

“We are delighted to have been awarded this ATF grant as it will accelerate our progress towards the commercial production of battery grade lithium hydroxide in the UK,” said Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and Founder of Cornish Lithium.

“We believe that a secure, sustainable domestic supply of lithium is essential for the development of a resilient electric vehicle supply chain for the British automotive industry. The award of this grant provides further validation of the Trelavour Project’s potential, following our major institutional shareholder, TechMet, electing to exercise its option to invest a further £9.0 million after its review of our scoping study.

“This award from the ATF will be used, along with funds from the TechMet option exercise, to construct the Demonstration Plant at Trelavour. This will be a key workstream to allow us to define the processing flow sheet for the project fully as well as enable the production of samples that can be supplied to potential end users whether as lithium compounds or in the form of by-products that are yet to be incorporated within the economic model for the project,” he said.

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