The Crown Estate, manager of the seabed and much of the foreshore around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has today announced the outcome of its Minerals Licensing Round, granting Cornish Lithium rights to explore for lithium within geothermal waters in areas off both the north and south coasts of Cornwall.
The Crown Estate, which pays its entire net revenue profit to HM Treasury for the benefit of the nation, works closely with the Government, industry and stakeholders to optimise the potential of the seabed to create holistic value, including driving green growth.
The award of rights follows a comprehensive two-year tender process (commenced in 2018) and an environmental assessment known as a plan-level Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) that concluded in December 2020.
It gives Cornish Lithium the opportunity to explore offshore for potential lithium mineral resources contained within geothermal waters. The grant of rights means that Cornish Lithium can now begin its desk-based exploration programme, to start to identify potential geological targets for later research. Physical exploration works are not anticipated for at least four years, following the appropriate desk studies, design works and extensive consultation.
In order for Cornish Lithium to proceed to commercial extraction the business will need to meet all the milestones required for extraction rights from The Crown Estate, as well as statutory planning and environmental consents from the relevant regulatory body, which would include consultation. Whilst exploration work for lithium in geothermal waters is at an early stage, lithium extraction has significant potential to create new revenue and jobs within a new industry for the benefit of Cornwall.
Nick Everington, Portfolio Manager at The Crown Estate, said: “Lithium has an important and exciting role to play in helping unlock an electric economy and deliver the UK’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Following a robust tender process for rights to explore for minerals off the coast of Cornwall, we are pleased to award these initial rights to Cornish Lithium for exploratory works.
“This is a further example of The Crown Estate’s role as managers of the UK’s seabed to help unlock the sustainable and coordinated use of our world-leading marine resources.”
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and Founder of Cornish Lithium, said: “The grant of the rights to explore parts of offshore Cornwall for lithium in geothermal waters is a great opportunity for Cornish Lithium, Cornwall and the wider UK.
“Minerals are going to play a key part in the transition to net zero emissions and a decarbonised economy. Lithium exploration in the UK is strategically important for our ability to meet the ambitious climate change targets set out by the UK Government.
“Our exploration work across Cornwall has indicated that the geological structures containing lithium-enriched geothermal waters continue offshore, and we are therefore delighted to have secured rights to explore these structures in areas owned by The Crown Estate. The opportunity to produce lithium from geothermal waters in Cornwall, using a low impact and environmentally responsible process, offers great potential for the establishment of a new industry in Cornwall. Having undergone a rigorous tender process, we are delighted to be working closely with The Crown Estate going forward as we start our desk-based exploration phase and apply knowledge gained from onshore exploration activities to these new licenses.”