A pilot plant by Lepidico, which is providing the technology behind Cornish Lithium’s Trelavour project
The Cornwall-based mineral exploration and development company has secured £18m of funding for projects that seek to plug a looming supply gap in the growth of the electric vehicle market.
Investment company TechMet, which raised $120m earlier this year, will help fund Cornish Lithium’s plan to establish a UK-based supply of battery metals used in EVs.
Cornish Lithium said the UK needs an estimated 75,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2035 to meet growing demand. By comparison, in 2020, Portugal – Europe’s largest lithium producer – produced about 1,200 tonnes of lithium.
The UK government has made the extraction and supply of minerals such as lithium a priority, committing £9.4m to fund the development of “innovative automotive technology”.
Cornish Lithium called the funding from TechMet “transformational”, adding that it would “significantly accelerate” its projects.
These include the construction of a plant where the company will be able to test low-carbon processing technology, for which it won a 15-year royalty-free licence in December 2020.
Development will also continue on the Trelavour Hard Rock Project, which is conducting tests on optimising lithium extraction from granite. Cornish Lithium said its new funding will allow construction plans to “materially progress”.
TechMet’s funds will also be used to evaluate and develop extraction sites in Cornwall’s geothermal waters. This will include studies into the possibility of using heat from boreholes to decarbonise local industries.
‘Important step’ for UK economy
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and founder of Cornish Lithium, said: “Cornish Lithium has reached an inflexion point in the company’s development where larger scale investment is required.
“This funding underpins the company’s ambitions in Cornwall as we seek to progress our projects towards construction and commercial production. TechMet has the financial capability to contribute additional capital if required and thus represents a strong, long-term partner for Cornish Lithium.”
As part of the investment, Simon Gardner-Bond, chief technical officer at TechMet, will join the Cornish Lithium board.
Brian Menell, CEO and chairman of TechMet, said: “This financing is an important step in advancing Cornish Lithium’s development programme. As the UK’s pre-eminent prospective lithium producer, it also represents an important step in the development of a domestic lithium supply for the UK economy.”
The investment, subject to shareholder approval, will be split into two tranches of £9m. The second tranche will be invested after the scoping study for the Trelavour Project is published. Cornish Lithium said it is on track to do so by Q2 2022.