Cornish Lithium, the start-up hoping to lead the development of an industry for the battery metal in the UK, has secured another £9 million ($11 million) from metals-focused investment company TechMet to help fast-track its lithium projects in the homeland.
The amount corresponds to the second tranche of an £18 million ($22m at today’s exchange rate) funding package agreed with the private investor in November.
TechMet’s decision to further invest in Cornish Lithium follows a full review of the miner’s Trelavour Scoping Study, which sets out the design and economics of the namesake project based upon the production of battery grade lithium hydroxide.
Cornish Lithium said the investment will allow it to accelerate the construction of a demonstration plant for lithium processing, a feasibility study for its Trelavour project, and conduct additional drilling.
The Trelavour hard rock lithium project comprises an open pit mine of lithium enriched granite and processing facilities that will yield concentrate of lithium-bearing mica. Lithium hydroxide will then be produced from the mica concentrate at an industrial site near the mine, Cornish Lithium said.
According to the scoping study, the mine will produce 25 million tonnes per annum, with a 20-year mine life producing an average of 7,800 tonnes of lithium hydroxide a year.
The European Union is currently rebuilding automotive supply chains around battery metals, and incentivizing the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic has said that, by 2025, large-scale battery plants currently under construction will produce cells to power at least six million EVs.
British carmakers have an additional pressure — in only three years, they will have to source local electric car batteries as set by the Brexit free trade deal inked last year.
Under the agreement, all European trade in cars and parts will continue to be free of tariffs or quotas after the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, as long as they contain enough content from either UK or EU factories.
“As the world transitions towards electric vehicles, a material lithium supply gap is looming, especially in the UK given the requirement for an estimated 75,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2035, according to The Faraday Institution, Cornish Lithium intends to position itself as a key player in the necessary supply chains to bridge that gap,” founder and chief executive Jeremy Wrathall said in the statement.
Cornish Lithium is simultaneously advancing its United Downs project. It built last year a geothermal water test site and demonstration plant, which is being used to trial direct lithium extraction process technologies.