How much of the UK’s lithium requirement can Cornwall provide to secure the future of its automotive industry? Can Cornwall maximise the potential of its natural capital as a focus for growth and prosperity? How big could the battery value chain be for Cornwall, from processing to recycling? How do we inspire and develop the next generation to take the modern mining industry forward? These were just some of the big questions that were posed at the third Cornish Mining Conference, held at The Falmouth Hotel on Thursday 29 September.
Proudly created by Cornish Lithium, the innovative mineral exploration and development company headquartered in Penryn, and organised by ABMEC, the British Mining Trade Association, the Conference attracted a capacity audience of 160 high-profile delegates. These included representatives from operational mines, exploration companies and the mining supply chain as well as UK Government officials, investors and academics. Some had traversed the globe to attend, such is the potential of Cornwall’s abundant mineralisation to subvert the UK’s unsustainable reliance on overseas imports.
The companies in Cornwall that are leading the Duchy’s nascent green industrial revolution – Cornish Lithium, Cornish Metals, Cornish Tin and British Lithium among them – recapped on the significant progress that had been made during the past year, in terms of evaluating the County’s mineral wealth and accelerating its extraction in a low carbon manner.
“Cornish Lithium founded this conference to highlight the opportunities in Cornwall, which are defined by the metals that will power the industries of tomorrow,” said Cornish Lithium’s Founder and CEO, Jeremy Wrathall. “It is a massive pleasure to see how it has grown so quickly and how mining professionals from across the UK are collaborating to develop an environmentally-responsible mineral extraction industry for the 21st century and beyond.
“It is often said that Cornwall exported its workforce in the 18th and 19th centuries but retained its metals. With the insatiable demand for technology metals, such as lithium, copper, tin, tungsten and cobalt, Cornwall’s geological advantage is of crucial importance to the UK, as highlighted in the Government’s recently-published Critical Minerals Strategy. Now is the time to reverse the Cornish diaspora that saw so many experienced workers emigrate to new worlds by securing a domestic supply chain of battery metals for British industry and investing in infrastructure to create high-skilled, well-paid careers for future generations.”
A thought-provoking programme of presentations ranged from the importance of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and the role of geophysics, to the geopolitics of critical minerals and circularity scenarios for technology metals. The Conference also incorporated a Gala Dinner at Falmouth Golf Club, complete with Cornish produce, Camel Valley champagne, Knightor wine and sea shanties from Bryher’s Boys, as well as site visits to local mining projects and a circular coastal walk around Swanpool.
“We thank all presenters for their insight, the sponsors for their generosity, the delegates for their enthusiasm and the organisers for staging a seamless and successful event,” added Jeremy Wrathall.
“This is a key moment in Cornwall’s history to catalyse the UK’s energy transition for the benefit of local people and the Cornish economy, and we are passionate for it to succeed.”
This theme was echoed by Conference Moderator, Kevin Sabin:
“In light of the current pressures on our energy portfolio, it is increasingly vital that we retain a robust and flexible mining supply chain in the UK.
“As President of ABMEC, the UK’s premier mining supply chain association, I was proud to be associated with this conference and to embrace the common voice in raising awareness and actively promoting the importance of mining minerals, many of which are critical to the electrical revolution that will enable the UK to lead on sustainable clean energy and climate-smart mining.”
A powerful postscript from Worley’s Randy Ekakitie packed a punch as the Conference reached its conclusion. If the world is to reverse its reliance on fossil fuels and the UK, its dependency on imports: “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
The third Cornish Mining Conference was supported by Cornish Lithium, Peel Hunt, ABMEC, I.M3, Aberdeen Minerals, Cornish Metals, Canaccord Genuity, British Lithium, Global Mine Design, Dräger, Brownlee Cale, Mayer Brown, Critical Minerals Association, Geotek, ERM, Worley, Anglesey Mining, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, AFX Mining and Pumping Technologies, Cornish Tin, Gowling WLG, Marsden Gray, Reid Geophysics, Tungsten West, Stephens Scown, Priority Drilling, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, VSA Capital, Camborne School of Mines and GSL.