Cornish Lithium, today announces that it plans to explore for, and to 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 (listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX-V: SBW) 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.
- Cornish Lithium is an independent company that has been created to develop lithium in geothermal “hot spring brines” in Cornwall. The Company believes this could result in the creation of a new lithium production industry in Cornwall.
- Cornish Lithium’s legal agreements encompass a large area centered around the area of Camborne, Redruth and St Day, but also cover other areas of Cornwall that the Company believes may be prospective for geothermal hot spring brines. Negotiations are ongoing with other owners of mineral rights within Cornwall.
- The rapid growth in demand for lithium-ion batteries is now centre stage globally given the dramatic switch towards electric cars. Most major vehicle manufacturers have outlined an electric car development programme with some manufacturers expecting 25 per cent of their sales to be electric vehicles by 2025. It is considered vital that new sources of lithium are developed, particularly in Europe in order that European car manufacturers can gain secure access to the lithium required.
- The UK Government has defined lithium as a metal of strategic importance to the country.
- The majority of lithium produced today comes from South America, Australia and China.
Lithium 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.
- Cornish Lithium believes that the presence of high levels of lithium in hot spring brines is due to the interaction between highly saline water from a nearby sedimentary basin and the granite under Cornwall. Some of the granite rocks in Cornwall are enriched in lithium and, over millions of years, this lithium appears to have become dissolved in highly saline waters which have interacted with the granite.
- Cornwall has a long-established mining history and offers excellent infrastructure, a knowledgeable workforce and a supportive community. Cornish Lithium will not be a miner in the traditional sense as the Company intends to extract lithium bearing hot spring brines via drill holes. The Company expects to draw on the abundance of technical knowledge in the County, and especially at the world-renowned Camborne School of Mines.
- The Company 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.
- Cornish Lithium’s next step is to identify appropriate sources of funding. The Company’s current budget contemplates a £5m spend in the exploration phase.
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO of Cornish Lithium, commented:
“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.
“We believe that this is a hugely exciting opportunity to put Cornwall back on the map as a mining centre as well as develop a new industry in the UK. We look forward to providing further updates as the project develops.”
George Eustice, MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, said
“The recognition of lithium in mineralised waters beneath areas of Cornwall represents an opportunity for a new mineral extraction industry in Britain. This is exciting news for Cornwall, with the potential to create new jobs and industry.
“Lithium is a strategic mineral given its importance in modern technologies and its applications in products ranging from power storage batteries to electric cars.
“If the team at Cornish Lithium is successful in developing this opportunity the UK may not have to rely on imports of this vital mineral in future.”
Tregothnan Estates, a major landowner in Cornwall, commented:
“Tregothnan has been supporting pioneering initiatives for nearly 700 years.
“This exciting opportunity presses the fast forward button on reactivating mining in Cornwall, both in the value of the element to be mined and in the extraction method to minimise environmental impact.
“Potentially a game changer for the Cornish economy this initiative could create the UK’s own supply of lithium, a crucial metal for technologies such as electric cars and batteries for the storage of clean energy. As such lithium is often referred to as “the metal of the future.’
“Today we are delighted to confirm our support for and collaboration with Cornish Lithium Limited.”
Professor Kip Jeffrey, Head of Camborne School of Mines, on the potential this project has for the UK mining industry said:
“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. In recent years’ too few of our young people have aspired to become mining engineers or geologists despite these being well paid and exciting careers.
“With the developments at Wolf Minerals, Strongbow and Cornish Lithium in the south west, Sirius in Yorkshire and Dalradian in Northern Ireland, I hope that we will see an increase in undergraduates interested in all aspects of mining. We can develop generations of young people with skills to export around the world and I look forward to working with them as Camborne School of Mines plays its part.”
Notes to Editors
The directors of Cornish Lithium have extensive mining industry and fundraising experience and have secured agreements with various holders of mineral rights in Cornwall to explore for, and to commercially develop, lithium bearing hot spring brines throughout areas considered to be highly prospective. The area over which Cornish Lithium has obtained rights will facilitate what is expected to be the largest unified exploration programme Cornwall has ever seen.
With demand for lithium expected to increase rapidly for uses in modern technologies, the UK government has highlighted this strategic mineral as a metal of importance to UK industry.
Lithium is the lightest metal and one of the most chemically reactive. This makes it ideally suited to batteries for electric cars and power storage. Lithium was recently described as “the new gasoline” by Goldman Sachs due to its ability to fuel a transformation in the automotive industry and to move towards a zero-emissions future, especially when combined with renewable power sources. Other industrial applications for lithium include; ceramics, lubricants and glass.
Demand for lithium from electric car batteries alone is forecast to grow rapidly for the foreseeable future, whilst power storage batteries are also expected to significantly augment this demand.
Strongbow Exploration is a Canadian mineral exploration company focused on building a strategic metals company through the acquisition and exploration of its portfolio of assets located in North America and the United Kingdom. Strongbow recently purchased the South Crofty tin mine, and associated mineral rights, out of administration following the closure of the mine in 1998. Strongbow is actively pursuing the reopening of the mine and are currently engaged in securing the necessary permits to do so.
Mineral Exploration Limited is a private company specialising in the acquisition of mineral rights in Cornwall. The company has been acquiring mineral rights for three generations and is hence considered one of the foremost authorities on Cornish mining and exploration.