Following years of research, British Lithium Limited has secured a €560k grant, which will help with their goal to support the production of 350,000 electric vehicles in the UK per year.
British Lithium Limited (BLL) has secured €560k for their ‘game-changing’ lithium extraction technology. Founded in 2016, BLL is the first company to explore unconventional hard-rock lithium in the UK. Not only this, but they are also the first to discover a significant lithium resource in the UK and the first to conduct innovative metallurgical research and development.
Their “project is game-changing and could revolutionise supply of lithium required for large-scale manufacture of li-ion batteries in the UK, aligning directly with key Grand Challenge Missions under the 2019 UK Industrial Strategy”.
With the goal to build an integrated lithium mine and beneficiation plant, the company hope to support the production of 350,000 electric vehicles (EVs) per year. This would give the UK a strategic advantage over Europe.
“We have undertaken many years of metallurgical research to develop a unique process for extracting lithium from micaceous granite – something never done commercially before,” said BLL’s chairman Roderick Smith. “We have our own laboratory in Roche, and our aim is to build a quarry and refinery in Cornwall that will produce 20,000 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate.”
Following years of research, reconnaissance and metallurgical test work, BLL carried out its first drilling programme in 2019. In the second phase of their research, further trenching took place. This was followed by an intensive 24-hour diamond-core drilling programme in December. The company’s on-site team of six is now preparing for the third phase of exploration.
Lithium is a highly reactive and relatively light metal, making it ideal to be used in batteries, especially batteries to power EVs. With a massive decrease in petrol and diesel car sales in 2020, sales of zero-emission cars have increased by nearly 160%. This increase means there is a higher demand for batteries to power these zero-emission cars.
Highly sought after funding for a highly successful company
BLL’s €560k funding comes as a match grant funding from the UK Government’s ‘Innovate UK Smart Grant’. It will be used to progress BLL’s research and development into hard rock lithium extraction in the southern UK region of Cornwall.
The ‘Innovate UK Smart Grant is an opportunity for UK registered organisations to apply for a share of up to £25 million from Innovate UK to deliver disruptive R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy.
British Lithium Limited’s managing director has said about the company:
The amount of lithium we are planning to produce annually will be a major step forward in attracting more battery manufacturers and maintaining our car industry. If batteries are not made in the UK, car makers are likely to continue investing in EV production in Europe, because that’s where the gigafactories are.
Yet Europe isn’t actually producing any battery-grade lithium so achieving that in Cornwall would give the UK as a whole, a huge competitive advantage.”
With an application success rate of around 6%, the ‘Innovate UK Smart Grant’ is highly sought after. Winning it is testament to the strength of BLL and will have a huge impact on Cornwall.
Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said concerning BLL’s success,
This announcement is excellent news for the local and national economy as it brings BLL another step closer to building a quarry and processing plant that will create hundreds of high-quality jobs and provide the UK with a significant sustainable resource. As a proud Cornishman, I’m very excited by the prospect of Cornwall leading the way in the production of hard rock lithium and look forward to further developments over the months and years to come.”