Cornish Lithium gets $5m funding boost for UK project

The company has been sampling deep geothermal waters. (Image courtesy of Cornish Lithium.)

Cornish Lithium, a start-up hoping to lead the development of an industry for the battery metal in the UK, has raised almost £4 million ($5m) through a crowdfunding campaign to progress its work in the ancient mining region of Cornwall, south-west England.

The company, which announced last month the discovery of “globally significant” lithium grades in hot springs within the project, kicked off the campaign on Crowdcube on Monday.

Cornish Lithium kicked off the campaign on Crowdcube on Monday with the goal of raising £1.5 million. By Tuesday afternoon, it had raised $5 million

The goal was raising £1.5 million, but within 30 minutes, Cornish Lithium had exceeded the target and by mid-afternoon Tuesday it had raised £3.9 million from more than 2,400 investors.

The junior is now deciding how much additional cash to accept and when to close the funding round through the Internet platform.

“We are raising additional funding at this time to continue towards our goal of creating a battery metals hub for the UK,” chief executive and founder Jeremy Wrathall said in a statement.

Cornish Lithium recently decided to also begin exploring for other battery metals, such as cobalt and copper. It’s also aiming at listing on the London Stock Exchange by 2022.

Good timing

The European Union is currently rebuilding automotive supply chains around battery metals, and incentivizing the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

According to projections from UK-based green policy group Transport & Environment, one in 10 new cars sold across Europe this year will be electric or plug-in hybrid, tripling last year’s sales levels.

The market share of mostly electric cars will rise to 15% next year, the group forecasts, as carmakers across the continent race to cut their carbon emissions levels.

Europe is currently rebuilding automotive supply chains around battery metals, and incentivizing the adoption of EVs

Under new rules, in effect from January 2021, carmakers must reduce the average emissions from their vehicles to 95g of CO2 per km or face fines that could run into billions of euros.

China, which was originally planning to wean customers away from EV subsidies by 2020, is also doing its part. It recently announced a two-year extension to the plan through to the end of 2022.

Beijing made a 10% cut to subsidies this year and also limited the scope of subsidies to EVs costing less than 300,000 yuan ($44,318). 

Cornwall is a historic mining district, stretching back to the early bronze age. Copper, tin, zinc, silver and arsenic have all been exploited for centuries.

The area around St. Day and Gwennap was the richest copper-producing region in Cornwall (and the world) in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Most lithium is produced in South America, Australia and China, but the UK government designated it last year a metal of strategic importance to the country.

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