Plans have been revealed to explore and potentially develop lithium contained in underground hot spring brines in Cornwall.
The presence of lithium in hot spring brines in Cornwall has been known since the mid-1800s, but this was regarded as a curiosity, given there was no developed market for the metal at that time.
New technology now offers the potential to extract lithium from these hot spring brines and to supply product to the rapidly-growing battery market for electric cars and for power storage.
Cornish Lithium has entered into definitive mineral rights agreements with Strongbow Exploration and Mineral Exploration Limited, and has signed a Heads of Agreement with Tregothnan Estates, to carry out exploration for, and development of, lithium in hot spring brines within the majority of the mineral rights held by these entities.
Rights secured by Cornish Lithium will allow the company to undertake what it believes to be the largest, single, unified mineral exploration programme in Cornwall’s history. It believes it could lead to the creation of a new lithium production industry in Cornwall.
Cornish Lithium has also secured rights to geothermal energy contained in the hot spring brines. It is anticipated that this energy will be utilised to generate power to reduce processing costs, but also may be used for other industries in the region.
The company’s next step is to identify appropriate sources of funding. Its current budget contemplates a £5 million spend in the exploration phase.
Cornish Lithium CEO, Jeremy Wrathall, said: “We are delighted to have signed agreements with Strongbow Exploration, Mineral Exploration Limited and Tregothnan Estates to explore for, and to commercially develop, lithium contained in hot spring brines.
“The rights secured cover the key areas of interest based on historic recordings of lithium in such springs, allowing us to further investigate these occurrences and to identify potential sites for commercial extraction facilities.
“Cornish Lithium has been set up to explore the potential for a lithium industry in the UK; which would give the country significant strategic advantages in a world increasingly focussed on zero emissions and renewable power. We believe the potential benefits of developing a lithium industry in Cornwall will be significant for the county and for the UK as a whole.”
Professor Kip Jeffrey, head of Camborne School of Mines, added: “Although this project is still at an early stage it is very exciting news. If successful, it will be good for the whole of Cornwall and I believe will also have wider potential implications for the whole of the UK.”