Cornwall on track to become ‘lithium valley’

  • Watch Grace Pascoe's report

Cornish Lithium Limited hopes to be producing and supplying lithium by 2024 to meet the UK's demand which could bring jobs and investment to the Duchy.

The founder of Cornish Lithium Jeremy Wrathall says this could be the foundation of a new industry for Cornwall.

He said: "Cornwall could become lithium valley and attract battery mega factories here and a whole new skillset of extracting this really important metal and really drive the economy of Cornwall forward.

"We're drilling here for lithium contained in the same rock as china clay in a granite and we're really excited about what we've seen so far for the potential to produce the lithium industry for the UK."

Cornish Lithium Ltd are drilling for lithium in former china clay pits near St Austell. Credit: ITV West Country

The Government has set out plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2030 in favour of electric vehicles which rely on lithium to fuel their batteries.

Jeremy added: "Without lithium there is no renewable future.

"We might as well go back to fossil fuels and so really it is a very green project because the extraction method we're going to be using is very very low carbon intensity.

"This is the foundation of an entirely new industry that will create a lot of jobs, frankly, and highly skilled jobs.

"Already we're seeing the beginnings of that, we're hiring more people at the moment.

"That could build up and obviously add-on industries like possibly If we get a battery mega factory here in Cornwall which would be amazing.

"A battery mega factory brings many thousands of jobs."

Cylinders of lithium are extracted from the ground before being examined by geologists Credit: ITV West Country

Geologists at Cornish Lithium Ltd are testing two methods including geothermal brine extraction at United Downs near Redruth and hard rock drilling at Trelavour near St Dennis.

Trelavour is a former china clay pit and the team has found lithium in granite - the same rock that contains china clay, giving another purpose to the industrial land.

Exploration geologist, Sally Worbey, explained the mining process to extract lithium from the ground.

She said: "The drill rig drills down into the granite here in the china clay pit and it brings up these cylinders of rock.

"As the geologists, we will come and collect the core, look at the granite and try to interpret what we're seeing below ground.

"Where we get the lithium from disseminates from the granite so it's not just small veins. You get it over much bigger distances which is then really exciting for when we come to mine."

The discovery of high-quality lithium under the ground in Cornwall means this project is now being fast tracked towards commercial production.

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