A consortium including the Natural History Museum, has announced what is considered to be the first domestic production of lithium carbonate from UK sites.
Lithium carbonate is a raw material for lithium-ion battery cells, such as those used in electric vehicles (EVs).
The museum is part of a group, made of British technical mining consultancy, Wardell Armstrong International and the mineral exploration and development firm Cornish Lithium Ltd.
It has successfully produced lithium carbonate in two projects in Cornwall and Scotland that could help the country keep up the pace with the coming EV boom.
The consortium had previously developed the ‘Li4UK’ project to assess the feasibility of producing battery-quality lithium from UK sources and to evaluate the potential for building a new industry for Britain.
According to recent reports, the largest portion of the global lithium output is produced in South America and Australia and is then shipped to China for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries.
Ben Simpson, Technical Director for Mineral Processing at WAI, said: “It was crucial for the UK to start looking at domestic sources of battery materials and production of lithium-ion batteries, from mine to market. What has been achieved here puts the UK at the forefront of developments in the European battery industry.”
Cornish Lithium Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Wrathall said: “Given the potential that has been established by this project to exploit lithium resources in Cornwall, it is possible that the UK could produce a significant percentage of its lithium demand domestically, thus creating a vertically-integrated supply chain and generating additional value for the UK economy.”