Weardale Lithium celebrates extraction of lithium carbonate from geothermal brines near Eastgate
Lithium carbonate has been successfully extracted from geothermal brines at a former cement works in County Durham, an achievement that has been hailed as a major coup in the development of a domestic supply chain for the battery metal.
Weardale Lithium announced this morning it had produced lithium from underground brines found in existing boreholes near Eastgate using a low-impact, low-carbon, and low-water usage method of extraction.
The company said the positive results confirmed the brines were amenable for lithium production and would enable it to press ahead with plans to scale up its trials.
Stewart Dickson, CEO of Weardale Lithium, touted the achievement as a major milestone in the effort to create a domestic supply of lithium in England’s north east which could supply the burgeoning electric vehicle manufacturing sector.
“We have taken a significant step forward in establishing that the naturally occurring geothermal brines are amenable for lithium production and validated a number of direct lithium extraction processes,” Dickson said. “We will now accelerate and scale-up the testing of increased volumes of brine towards first production.”
Weardale is aiming to eventually generate 10,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate annually and claims it will be able to create 125 full-time, highly skilled jobs in the region. It is hoping to build a pilot-demonstration facility to test commercial scale production of the material.
There is currently no commercial lithium production or refining in the UK, however a number of start-ups in Scotland, Cornwall, and northern England are attempting to develop production of the material domestically.
Weardale’s work has been made possible through funding from the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund, awarded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).
Julian Hetherington, director of automotive transportation at the APC, said schemes like Weardale’s were critical to ramping up production of critical lithium supplies.
Learn more: Business Green