British Lithium joint venture delivers worlds’ first end-to-end extraction site  

Imerys has taken an 80% stake in British Lithium, boosting the world’s first end-to-end pilot plant venture to produce sustainable battery-grade lithium in Cornwall.  

Creating a local supply chain of critical materials for UK industry is important to meet rising demand, especially in electric vehicle battery manufacturing.  

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC)’s own latest quarterly demand report shows that, in the UK alone, 63 kilotonnes will be required by the automotive sector by 2030. 

The viability of this particular site has been supported by the APC’s Scale-Up Readiness Validation (SURV) and Feasibility Study competitions, funded by the Government’s Automotive Transformation Fund. 

As it already has an operational pilot plant, this new investment and cooperation between a UK startup and French multinational will accelerate plans to build a full-scale plant and produce 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate each year. 

On visiting the site Julian Hetherington, Automotive Transformation Director at the APC said, 

“The joint venture announced today by British Lithium and Imerys demonstrates the effectiveness of targeted support of the Automotive Transformation Fund. Government funding through the APC in the early riskier phases of projects paves the way for others to follow. Our SURV and feasibility study competitions prepare for scale-up and provide confidence to investors with greater private capital resources. I am encouraged that this will be an important foundation project in what is fast becoming a regional cluster of lithium extraction and processing opportunities in Cornwall.” 

Roderick Smith, Chairman of British Lithium, said:  

“After working closely with Imerys several years, the directors, shareholders, and staff of British Lithium are delighted to formalize their partnership with Imerys and are confident that this alignment of interests will propel us toward continued rapid progress. This marks a key milestone for British Lithium, Imerys, and the entire lithium battery industry, as they embark on a journey to establish a sustainable future for lithium production in the United Kingdom.”  

Interest and investment from overseas multinationals shows confidence in this emerging resource for the South West and in the UK’s transition to net-zero. It could be transformational if successful.  

The APC has funded several lithium projects in the region, and it sees opportunity for a number of players to develop technology that supports the localisation of the automotive battery supply chain – from sustainable extraction to processing and manufacturing – here in the UK. 

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