“We are delighted to have been awarded this ATF grant as it will accelerate our progress towards the commercial production of battery grade lithium hydroxide in the UK,” CEO Jeremy Wrathall said in the statement.
The Trelavour hard rock lithium project, located in Cornwall, comprises an open pit mine of lithium enriched granite and processing facilities that will yield concentrate of lithium-bearing mica. Lithium hydroxide will then be produced from the mica concentrate at an industrial site near the mine.
According to a scoping study, also financed with help from ATF and the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), the Trelavour mine will produce 25 million tonnes per annum.
Operational life is pegged at 20 years, during which it would generate an average of 7,800 tonnes of lithium hydroxide a year.
Speeding up construction of the plant would allow Cornish Lithium take advantage of the European Union’s current push to rebuild its automotive supply chains around battery metals and foster the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic has said that by 2025, large-scale battery plants currently under construction will produce cells to power at least six million EVs.
British carmakers have an additional pressure — in only three years, they will have to source local electric car batteries as set by the Brexit free trade deal inked last year.
Under the agreement, all European trade in cars and parts will continue to be free of tariffs or quotas after the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, as long as they contain enough content from either UK or EU factories.
“We believe that a secure, sustainable domestic supply of lithium is essential for the development of a resilient electric vehicle supply chain for the British automotive industry,” Wrathall said on Wednesday.
Cornish Lithium is simultaneously advancing its United Downs project. It built last year a geothermal water test site and demonstration plant, which is being used to trial direct lithium extraction process technologies.