Imerys, the global leader in mineral-based specialty solutions, has acquired an 80% stake in British Lithium, paving the way for the establishment of the UK’s first lithium mine in Cornwall. With support from the UK Government, the two companies aim to combine their expertise to develop the mine.
British Lithium has been conducting drilling and exploration on Imerys-owned land in Cornwall since 2017. During this time, they have developed a unique process and pilot plant to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.
The planned mine is projected to produce enough lithium to equip 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) annually. Following drilling and resource definition, inferred mineral resources are estimated to be 161 million tonnes at a grade of 0.54% lithium oxide. The resources provide sufficient confidence to target a mine life exceeding 30 years, with a production rate of 200,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent per year.
By the end of the decade, the mine is expected to meet around two-thirds of Britain’s battery demand, coinciding with the transition of all UK car manufacturers to electric vehicles.
The establishment of the mine will help reduce the UK’s and Europe’s dependence on critical raw material imports, contributing to the achievement of European and British climate targets. It will also support the development of the first fully integrated regional EV value chain.
In addition to enhancing the UK’s supply of critical minerals, the project is set to generate new jobs and foster economic growth in the Cornwall region. Imerys currently employs 830 people in Cornwall and has a deep commitment to the UK, with five world-class open-pit mine sites in Cornwall and Devon.
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch welcomed the joint venture, highlighting its role in strengthening the domestic supply of critical minerals and supporting the growth of the UK’s advanced manufacturing industry. The partnership signifies the UK’s attractiveness for international investment, promoting economic prosperity, green industries, and energy security.
Roderick Smith, Chairman of British Lithium, expressed delight at formalizing the partnership with Imerys, emphasizing the significance of this milestone for the entire battery industry. The collaboration between British Lithium, Imerys, and the broader sector aims to establish a sustainable future for lithium production in the United Kingdom.
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