Cornish Lithium, the pioneering mineral exploration and development company, has announced another successful quarter with significant operational progress, combined with securing a landmark £53.6 m funding package from the UKIB, EMG and TechMet. This funding was closely followed by a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign which raised an additional £5.1m, from both new and existing shareholders.
Work has continued apace towards the commercialisation of Cornish Lithium’s lithium in geothermal waters projects and significant progress has also been made at its Trelavour Hard Rock Project, both in Cornwall, UK.
- Landmark £53.6m fundraising completed with UKIB, EMG & TechMet with potential second stage funding package of £168.0m
- £5.1m crowd funding complete – one of the largest crowdfundings undertaken by Crowdcube in the UK this year
- Drilling operations completed at Blackwater with testing nearing completion
- Further hydrogeological testing at United Downs as part of the CRM Geothermal Project in conjunction with the University of Potsdam and the British Geological Survey
- Finalising selection of next geothermal exploration site and future sites
- Koch DLE pilot plant arrived on site in early September and testing is underway
- Preparations underway to test Forward Water’s “forward osmosis” technology at United Downs
- Latest 13,000 metre drilling campaign at Trelavour has been completed which is expected to lead to an updated Resource early next year
- Further grant received from the ATF to fund some of the costs of the Resource update
Further progress has been made on construction of the Demonstration Plant with the first hydrometallurgical plant skids arriving and a number of long lead items secured for the concentrator
- ERM appointed as consultants for the Trelavour Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA)
- Final stages of selecting a suitable engineering firm to coordinate the project Feasibility Study as well as Mineral Resource consultants to provide an updated Resource statement
- Continued community engagement with presentations given at recent community engagement events. Further community “drop-in sessions” planned
Jeremy Wrathall, Founder and CEO commented: “It has been another outstanding quarter of progress across our workstreams. Our focus at Trelavour is now on constructing the Demonstration Plant as well as the project Feasibility Study, which will ultimately inform the project’s construction decision. On the geothermal side of the business, we look forward to drilling our next exploration site and further optimising the process flow sheet for a demonstration site. The successful completion of each of these workstreams will generate key milestones that are expected to significantly de-risk each project.
“Securing our landmark funding package in August was a watershed moment for Cornish Lithium. The substantial funding secured has given us the confidence to press full steam ahead on our exciting portfolio of projects as we work to create value for all our stakeholders.”
Landmark Fundraising Secured
On 7 August Cornish Lithium announced a US$67m (£53.6m) initial investment from a group of leading institutional investors led by the UK Infrastructure Bank alongside The Energy & Minerals Group (EMG) and TechMet.
In its first direct equity investment, the UK Infrastructure Bank committed to invest approximately £24.0m (US$30m equivalent) into the development of the UK’s critical minerals supply chain with EMG, a US-based private equity fund focused on the energy and minerals sectors, also investing around £24.0m (US$30m equivalent). Cornish Lithium’s largest existing institutional shareholder, TechMet, the critical minerals investment company, whose major backers include the US Government’s Development Finance Corporation (DFC), is investing a further US$7m (£5.6m), bringing its total investment into Cornish Lithium to US$30m.
This funding will enable Cornish Lithium to progress its Trelavour hard rock lithium project to a construction-ready status as well as complete the engineering design work required to build a demonstration-scale geothermal waters extraction facility. These project milestones are expected to generate a significant value uplift for all shareholders and create substantial benefits for the local community.
The initial investment is part of a larger funding package of up to an additional US$210m (c.£168.0m) potential second-stage financing, which is expected to provide the equity foundation necessary for the pioneering mineral exploration and development company to achieve commercial production.
Following the receipt of shareholder approval for the institutional fundraising, Cornish Lithium launched a retail share offer utilising Crowdcube’s crowd funding platform. The crowd funding has now closed after raising £5.1m. The crowdfunding is one of the largest undertaken in the UK this year and is the largest on Crowdcube by a B2B business in 2023. Existing shareholders received priority access to the financing round with Crowdcube, investing a milestone £1m in just 27 minutes.
Drilling operations at Blackwater were concluded at the end of August with the well reaching a depth of c.1,800 metres. Testing of the well commenced in early September, initially with wireline logging of the hole, followed by an airlift test. Since mid-September a series of pump tests have been undertaken to test the zones of permeability encountered whilst drilling the well. It is expected that testing operations will be concluded around the middle of October. Following the conclusion of the test programme the site will be rehabilitated.
During the quarter further hydrogeological test work was conducted utilising the initial boreholes drilled at United Downs as part of the Horizon Europe funded CRM Geothermal Project. In conjunction with teams from the University of Potsdam and the British Geological Survey, a series of tests were run to study the composition of the geothermal waters produced from the wells together with additional permeability testing. This included an extended airlift test as well as tracer testing with encouraging initial results.
With the impending conclusion of operations at Blackwater, the Geothermal Lithium team are now focused on identifying the next geothermal exploration site with a view to commencing engagement with the communities in that area ahead of the required planning applications.
Following the conclusion of testing of SENFI-UK’s, a subsidiary of SCG, DLE technology, the United Downs Pilot Plant was prepared for installation of Koch Technology Solution’s (KTS’) DLE pilot plant. The KTS pilot plant has been commissioned and is being tested using geothermal water produced from the borehole at Twelveheads.
In parallel with testing alternative DLE technologies, Cornish Lithium continues to evaluate the optimum overall flowsheet. To that end, the site at United Downs is being prepared to test Forward Water Technologies forward osmosis module.
Trelavour Hard Rock Project
Cornish Lithium has made excellent progress on its latest resource evaluation drilling campaign, which was finished at the end of September with over 13,000m of drilling completed. The updated Resource, in support of the project’s Feasibility Study, is expected to be published in early 2024 and Cornish Lithium is in the final stages of appointing suitable consultants to provide the updated Resource statement. It was also announced yesterday that the Automotive Transformation Fund will provide a further grant to Cornish Lithium to help fund some of the costs of the Resource update.
A tender process, with a shortlist of preferred engineering firms, is also nearing its conclusion with a view to work commencing on the Feasibility Study shortly thereafter. The environmental studies required to support the Feasibility Study also continue to be progressed and in August ERM were appointed as ESIA consultants to align the two processes.
Significant progress has also been made on the construction of the Demonstration Plant at the TreLith Processing Site. Cornish Lithium is working with a number of contractors to build the Demonstration Plant, including Lancashire-based Ai Process Systems on the hydrometallurgical elements, and Galliford Try and Sepor on the concentrator elements. The Trelavour Demonstration Plant has been partly funded through a £1.8m grant from Innovate UK through the Automotive Transformative Fund (ATF). This forms part of the Scale-up Readiness Validation (SuRV) UK Government funding competition secured in September 2022 for the hydrometallurgical section of the Demonstration Plant. Initial components for the Demonstration Plant continue to arrive at the site, including the first skids for the hydrometallurgical section of the Demonstration Plant and long lead items for the concentrator have been secured by Sepor. Completion of the Demonstration Plant is expected in early 2024.
In addition to progress on the Demonstration Plant, the design of the ancillary facilities, such as the laboratory, visitors centre and welfare units, has been completed with construction due to commence imminently.
Cornish Lithium has also continued its programme of community engagement for the Trelavour Project with a community update presentation evening held in St Dennis on 20 September. Further community drop-in sessions are being organised in October with the first held on 7 October.