Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has visited British Lithium’s pilot plant near Roche.
The minister met key members of the British Lithium team, toured the plant and saw some of the lithium carbonate that has been produced from the mica in locally extracted Cornish granite – a world first.
British Lithium received £3 million in funding from Innovate UK to build the pilot plant after four years of intensive research and development. The plant became operational at the beginning of this year and includes ground-breaking technology that is currently being patented.
With the aim of becoming the most environmentally friendly lithium producer in the world, British Lithium expects to be supplying about one third of UK anticipated lithium demand by 2030, when all new cars will have to be electric. Lithium carbonate is a key component in the batteries needed to power them.
“It was a pleasure to show the Secretary of State what we have been doing and to discuss our future plans,” said British Lithium CEO Andrew Smith. “Government support is critical in helping us achieve our targets and it was important to meet him in person and let him see the plant working.
“Pilot scale production allows us to refine and develop our processes, prior to full scale production in about three years’ time. At that point, we expect to be directly employing around 350 people and making a significant contribution to the local economy through our much wider £84 billon supply chain.”
Kwarteng said: “Green industries of the future rely upon critical minerals such as lithium. To keep the UK at the forefront of the global Green Industrial Revolution and to protect our national security interests, it is vital we develop domestic supply chains, such as here in Cornwall, making us resilient to any international disruptions.
“Ahead of the publication of our Critical Mineral Strategy later this year, it was fantastic to see the work British Lithium is doing to strengthen these supply chains and support our ever-growing electric vehicle industry.”