As 2022 draws to a close, Cornish Lithium, the pioneering mineral exploration and development company, is pleased to have enjoyed an exemplary 2022 following extensive progress across all of its projects. The Company believes that a sustainable domestic lithium supply for the UK is an essential part of the transition to renewable energy and to the future of the British automotive industry as it transitions to manufacturing electric vehicles. The imperative to avert climate change via the move to renewable energy and electric vehicles has been described as “the global megatrend of our time”1 and the urgency to secure lithium supplies has seen lithium prices rise by approximately 1,200% over the last two years.
Increasing awareness of the need to secure metals that facilitate the transition to renewable energy has seen the introduction this year of the US Government’s Inflation Reduction Act, the European Commission’s launch of a Critical Raw Material Act and publication of the UK Government’s first-ever UK Critical Minerals Strategy.
Cornish Lithium’s projects across Cornwall are expected to support part of the UK’s forecast requirement for 80,000 tonnes of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE) by 2030, to support the UK’s transition to electric vehicle manufacturing.
Trelavour Project Demonstration Plant to be Built During 2023
June 2022 saw the completion of the Scoping Study for Cornish Lithium’s Trelavour hard rock lithium project near St Austell. The Study produced robust economic results including an average forecast production of 7,800 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per annum2. The robust Scoping Study results have given Cornish Lithium the confidence to start work on the project’s Feasibility Study.
Following its review of the Trelavour Scoping Study, TechMet – Cornish Lithium’s major institutional shareholder – exercised its second tranche option to invest a further £9.0m and thus increase its shareholding in the Company. This is part of an overall £18.0 million funding package provided by TechMet.
In November 2022, a lease was signed with the Tregothnan Estate for the Trelavour Pit and TreLith processing site to firmly establish these important development sites for Cornish Lithium. This historic deal will revive Tregothnan Estates’ own rich heritage of mining in an area that has proven to host significant mineral deposits.
An additional drilling programme has commenced, which is expected to further expand the Trelavour Mineral Resource and to allow conversion from an Inferred Resource to a Measured and Indicated classification under the JORC Code. Environmental surveys and studies have commenced in order to support the Feasibility Study, which is intended for completion in 2024. Contractors have been appointed for the construction of the Trelavour Demonstration Plant, including Lancashire based Ai Process Systems.
These systems were partly funded through a £1.8 million grant from Innovate UK through the Automotive Transformative Fund (ATF), and form part of the Scale-up Readiness Validation (SuRV) UK Government funding competition secured in September for the hydrometallurgical section of the Demonstration Plant. Initial components of the Demonstration Plant are expected to arrive in February 2023 and completion is expected in early 2024.
The Demonstration Plant is expected to produce commercial samples of lithium hydroxide for evaluation by prospective end-users, such as battery producers and automotive part producers, known as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
New Geothermal Sites and Extraction Pilot Plant Commissioned
Cornish Lithium has also achieved significant milestones in its programme to extract lithium and heat from geothermal waters deep beneath the surface of Cornwall.
A Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) pilot plant was successfully built and commissioned in March 2022 at Cornish Lithium’s United Downs geothermal testing facility. This pilot plant is the first facility in the UK that enables the testing of DLE technologies and is part of the Company’s quest to create a low-carbon, energy-efficient lithium extraction industry in Cornwall. The Company plans to test additional DLE technologies, along with reverse osmosis, and other concentration technologies to work towards a final process flow sheet.
The DLE pilot plant was supported by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with £2.9 million from the UK Government’s Getting Building Fund. The DLE pilot plant was commissioned through the Cornish Lithium subsidiary GeoCubed, which became a wholly owned subsidiary in 2022 following the acquisition of Geothermal Engineering Limited’s minority interest in April.
A new geothermal lithium and heat site was drilled at Twelveheads near St Day. Following encouraging testing of the geological structures encountered in the borehole, Cornish Lithium has decided to deepen the research borehole, with drilling and testing operations to be completed by spring 2023.
Looking ahead to next year, Cornish Lithium has identified a number of potential new sites and is aiming to drill at least two more sites during 2023.
ESG Initiatives Implemented
As part of its ongoing dedication to maintaining the highest levels of environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, Cornish Lithium has continued its outreach programme within Cornwall and will expand communications throughout 2023. The Company continues to work with schools and communities to showcase potential highly-skilled careers that could be generated by the mineral extraction sector, along with providing updates on its projects. The Company launched several charity initiatives and supporting sponsorships, including work with the Cornwall Heritage Trust, Cornish Seal Sanctuary, and its own Community Fund, in conjunction with the Cornwall Community Foundation, to support the work of groups who seek to make a positive difference in its project areas.
In September, the Company was proud to publish its inaugural sustainability report. The Company’s first sustainability report provides stakeholders with clear insights into its ongoing dedication to ESG programmes, as well as its performance to date.
Board of Directors Strengthened
Cornish Lithium was delighted to strengthen its Board of Directors with two new members during the year. The Company appointed Ian Cockerill as Chair and Janet Blas as an Independent Non-Executive Director. The Company also converted from a private to a public limited company in 2022 as part of its preparation for a future IPO (Initial Public Offering).
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and Founder of Cornish Lithium, says: “2022 has been another impactful year for Cornish Lithium as we continue our progress across various sites in the County. Cornish Lithium will seek to raise additional funds during 2023 in order to maintain the development momentum across our portfolio of projects and to ensure the Company is well funded through to the construction decision on our Trelavour project. Our focus remains on the delivery of a secure lithium supply for the UK, economic value creation for the Cornish economy and the creation of long-term careers.”
For further information about Cornish Lithium, please contact: Neil Elliot, Manager – Corporate Development: [email protected]