Cornish Lithium, the mineral exploration and development company based in Cornwall, said it will now accelerate the Trelavour hard rock lithium project near St Austell following the successful production of nominal battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
This was achieved using Australian Stock Exchange-listed Lepidico proprietary process technologies on lithium mica samples obtained during its maiden hard rock lithium drilling programme within an existing china clay open pit earlier this year.
The company has now paid £2.3m for a 15-year royalty-free technology licence from Lepidico which provides Cornish Lithium with an innovative and environmentally responsible metallurgical processing solution for the Trelavour project. Cornish Lithium can now proceed immediately towards bulk metallurgical testing and the construction of a pilot plant.
Earlier this year, Cornish Lithium raised £5m in three days through a crowdfunding campaign.
The company believes that this work will accelerate domestic production of battery quality lithium chemicals for the UK automotive and battery industry.
Work so far has indicated the potential to produce battery-grade lithium in Cornwall without the need for further refining, thus offering a complete on-site solution.
The licence is exclusive to Cornish Lithium and covers the entire St Austell granite region, an area of approximately 93km2. Importantly, Cornish Lithium has also entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Lepidico to further develop technologies for lithium extraction from zinnwaldite and polylithionite mica mineralisation from the St Austell region of Cornwall.
Jeremy Wrathall, founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium, said: “The next phase of work, which will shortly commence at Trelavour, will run in parallel with studies which continue to advance the company’s lithium in geothermal waters projects across Cornwall. In particular, the forthcoming construction of the lithium pilot plant at United Downs, will enable the company to trial direct lithium extraction technology at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Project together with partners Geothermal Engineering.
“Importantly, Lepidico’s technologies are in keeping with Cornish Lithium’s desire to produce lithium in an environmentally friendly, low carbon manner given their ability to directly leach lithium bearing mica minerals at atmospheric pressure. The L-Max® and LOH-Max® technologies thus have excellent environmental and sustainability credentials. When combined with the fact that the Trelavour project is within an existing china clay open pit, we believe this represents a truly low-impact and environmentally responsible route to commercial production of lithium within the UK.”