photo: Barry Gamble, Levant Mine Dressing Floors
The announcement this morning that Cornish Lithium Ltd has secured a £1 million investment from a group of highly experienced mining and natural resources investors brings the promise of a return of precious metal mining to the Duchy a step closer.
The funds raised will enable the Company to commence exploration activities on the ground in Cornwall. The initial focus will be to collate all relevant data on lithium occurrences in Cornwall and to assemble this in digital format. The company intends to integrate surface and underground data in order to prioritise the best locations for subsequent drilling and sampling. Such exploration is expected to include further geophysical surveys where possible. Once drill sites have been selected the company intends to apply for the necessary permits ahead of drill testing of suitable targets.
Lithium batteries are seen as key to global energy demands in the future. Petrol and diesel engines will be banned from sale in 2040 and electric cars run on lithium batteries for example. Demand for Lithium has never been stronger, there are many other uses in industry and domestic appliances, from aeroplanes to smart technology which should see a global ‘lithium rush’ in the forseeable future.
Goldman Sachs is calling it “the new gasoline” suggesting demand could triple by 2025.
Lithium batteries also have a large role to play in renewable energy sources as wind and solar energy storage, related industries which incidentally already have firm roots within the Cornish landscape.
Looking forward, battery “mega factories” are already being built around the world. Tesla is building a 35GWh facility in Nevada in order to create enough batteries to power their own range of electric vehicles. Production is slated to begin in 2017 and is expected to reach peak capacity by 2020, at which point this single factory will produce more lithium batteries than were produced globally during 2013.
Lithium is found in both hard-rock deposits and in salty brines. Right now, it’s mainly mined in what’s known as the “Lithium Triangle” where Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia meet, as well as in China and Australia. It is currently extracted from large brine lakes or “salars” in Chile and Argentina and from mines in Australia. These important sources are facing expansion challenges which makes new sources of supply ever more important and crucial to the growth of environmentally friendly technologies. In addition, the UK Government has highlighted lithium as a metal of importance within the technology sector.
There would be huge environmental concerns if a similar process was to be entertained in Cornwall.
Rights have been secured to explore for and commercially develop lithium and the geothermal energy contained in the Cornish hot springs.
Cornish Lithium welcomes the investment from incoming investors given the wealth of mining, processing, capital raising, project development and operational experience amongst the group.
The company is focused on exploring for lithium within the hot springs that naturally occur beneath the surface in and around Cornish granites, with the aim to create a new mining industry in the region.
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO of Cornish Lithium, commented:
“We are delighted to have secured this investment to commence our exploration programme. We look forward to working with our new shareholders given the wealth of experience they have to offer in the field of natural resources.”
Keith Liddell, a member of the incoming shareholder group, said:
“Given the extensive historic readings of lithium in geothermal brines as well as the recent advances in technology, we see a real potential for lithium production in Cornwall. Combined with the global shift in focus towards electric vehicles and battery energy storage we believe that Cornish Lithium could potentially become a very significant player in the lithium industry in the UK and Europe. We look forward to working with the team in progressing this exciting project through mits exploration and development phases.”