It is the first time commercial-grade lithium carbonate has been produced from the mica in granite rock, British Lithium claim.
Inews reports that a mining company based in Cornwall claims to be the first in the world to have extracted battery-grade lithium carbonate from shards of mica crystals.
British Lithium said on Tuesday its pilot plant in Roche, North Cornwall, has successfully extracted lithium carbonate from the mica in the county’s granite bedrock. It paves the way for Cornwall to become a hub for mining and refining lithium, the main ingredient for electric car batteries.
The Government plans to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030, with electric vehicles widely expected to make up
the vast majority of new car sales from then. Producing lithium in the UK would help to build a domestic supply chain for electric vehicle batteries, supporters argue.
British Lithium chief executive Andrew Smith said he was “delighted” by the results from the pilot plant, particularly as it operates under “real world” conditions, using local water supplies and materials. The plant, which was funded by the UK Government, will shortly start producing 5kgs of lithium carbonate each day for customers to trial.
“We’re delighted with the rapid progress we’ve made, but there’s still a long road ahead in terms of refining and optimising the process,” Mr Smith said.
Plans are underway at British Lithium to build a full-scale plant, with the aim of producing 21,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate each year. That represents around one-third of the total lithium supply the UK is expected to need to meet future electric vehicle demand.
British Lithium is not the only company targeting Cornwall’s lithium reserves. Last month Cornish Lithium, based just a few miles away in Falmouth, received investment worth up to £18m from TechMet Limited to fast track its lithium mining projects in the county. It also plans to build a processing plant near its mining sites to “build a value chain” for electric vehicle battery production in Cornwall, according to Cornish Lithium CEO Jeremy Wrathall.
Together the two firms could create around 860 jobs in the county, which is one of the most deprived regions of Northern Europe. If the mines and processing plants attract investment for a battery factory – known as a gigafactory – a further 3,000 jobs could be created.
(Story source: Inews)