Lithium firms in Cornwall have welcomed the Government’s announcement that the Tata Group is to invest £4 billion in a new electric car battery factory.
It will be one of the largest-ever investments in the UK automotive sector and provide almost half of the battery production needed by 2030 – turbocharging the UK’s switch to zero emissions vehicles.
Jeremy Wrathall, founder and CEO of mineral exploration company, Cornish Lithium, said the news of the Somerset factory represented “a significant stride” in fortifying the UK’s electric vehicle manufacturing supply chain.
He said: “We welcome the fact that the Government is clearly stepping up efforts to support the electric vehicle and battery supply chain in the UK and are delighted that the new gigafactory will be located in the south west, in close proximity to our Trelavour Lithium project which is scheduled to start production during 2026.
“The journey towards net zero is not only about reducing emissions, but also about building resilient supply chains, and this gigafactory is a remarkable step towards laying the groundwork to achieve that vision in the UK.”
The news was also warmly welcomed by St Austell-based Imerys British Lithium (IBL).
IBL is a newly-formed joint venture company that combines the technology and specialist expertise of British Lithium with the significant resources and global mining stature of Imerys. With an up and running lithium pilot plant in Cornwall and the largest established 161 million tonne Inferred Mineral Resource in the UK, IBL is planning full production by 2028.
“We have commenced a fully-funded feasibility study and are planning a production rate of 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate each year– enough to meet roughly half of the likely requirement of a 40 GWh gigafactory,” said IBL CEO Andrew Smith.
“The proximity of JLR’s new gigfactory in Somerset to our base in one of Cornwall’s mining heartlands is another big milestone in establishing an industry that will help achieve the Government’s net zero goals.”
Imerys UK director and IBL director, Mark Hewson, added: “JLR’s announcement is important in consolidating the south west’s position as a vital player in carbon reduction.”