Cornish Lithium Ltd announces preliminary results of geothermal sampling as it announces plans for further fundraising round
Cornwall could emerge as a key region for the UK's growing green economy, after mining firm Cornish Lithium Ltd claimed to have found "globally significant" grades of lithium, a key component in battery technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems, in the county.
The company yesterday announced the results of preliminary sampling of lithium in deep geothermal waters at its pilot United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project near Redruth, where it plans to carry out further tests in the coming months.
It said initial results indicate "some of the world's highest grades of lithium and best overall chemical qualities encountered in published records for geothermal waters anywhere in the world", as well as signs of potential valuable by products such as boron, rubidium, caesium, and potassium.
Moreover, it said that geothermal waters which contain lithium offer further benefits compared to other occurrences of lithium in brine elsewhere in the world, as geothermal waters can be used to generate zero carbon electrical power and heat.
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and founder of Cornish Lithium, said the sampling results marked "an exciting step towards the realisation of low-carbon lithium extraction from geothermal waters in Cornwall".
"We now have increased confidence that these lithium-enriched geothermal waters can be found at depth across Cornwall and believe that there is significant potential to replicate combined lithium and geothermal extraction plants in different locations across the county where Cornish Lithium has mineral rights agreements in place," he said.
"These results show that Cornish deep geothermal waters, unlike others around the world, have low salinity, meaning much lower concentrations of elements such as magnesium and sodium," he added. "When these elements are present in high concentrations it can make it difficult and more expensive to separate out the lithium compounds."
The company recently secured government funding in support of a £4m lithium extraction project in collaboration with Geothermal Engineering at its United Downs site, where it plans to demonstrate that the metal can be produced from geothermal brines with a zero carbon footprint.
Wrathall said the pilot lithium extraction plant project would "allow us to evaluate green direct lithium extraction technologies which will bring us another step closer to commercial production of lithium in Cornwall".
Cornish Lithium is now also currently preparing for a new fundraising round for further investment via Crowdcube. It follows a previous fundraising round last year which saw it secure £1.4m backing from 1,200 new investors.
The company is not the only venture looking to capitalise on Cornwall's lithium potential. Roche-based British Lithium Ltd last month secured £500,000 government funding via Innovate UK to help progress its research and development of hard rock lithium extraction in the St Austell area of the county, which would make it the first UK firm to explore for the metal in hard rock.
The find comes amidst predictions that global demand for lithium is set to soar in the coming decades, as electric vehicles replace petrol and diesel models and batteries become a key component of modern power grids.
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