The UK government will fund a study to assess the feasibility of developing a British lithium supply. A consortium comprising the Natural History Museum, explorer Cornish Lithium and mining consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong.
The ‘Lithium for the UK’ project aims to help meet the increase in demand for the battery metal expected from the transition to electric vehicles (EVs). The study forms part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, a £246mn government investment into battery technology.
Wardell Armstrong’s Research Director and Li4UK Project Coordinator, Dr Chris Broadbent commented: “Presently the UK is totally reliant upon imported lithium compounds, with the vast majority supplied from China, for use in the Lithium Ion Batteries (LIBs) that will power the electric vehicles 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 21stcentury, green mining industry in the UK.”
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO of Cornish Lithium, called the study a “historic opportunity” for the tin mining region of Cornwall (known for the widespread presence of lithium-enriched granites) to join the quest for the development of lithium sources in the UK.
The Faraday battery challenge is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, designed to ensure research and innovation takes centre stage in the UK government’s Industrial Strategy.
Through an investment of £246 million, the challenge addresses the productivity gap in a growing market worth an estimated £5 billion in the UK and £50 billion across Europe by 2025.
The challenge is addressing 8 key targets of automotive battery technology which will allow the UK to realise its commitment to move to full electrification and zero emissions vehicles. It is also expected to translate into other sectors, including aerospace and rail.