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Mixed outlooks for UK lithium plays

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British Lithium has formed a joint venture (JV) with French industrial minerals giant Imerys to develop British Lithium’s Cornish-based lithium carbonate project. Imerys acquired an 80% stake in the JV, with British Lithium retaining the remaining 20%.

The JV will see Imerys contribute lithium feedstocks from its existing lithium mineral resources, as well as land and infrastructure for the development of the project. British Lithium will contribute its technical team and lithium pilot plant. The joint venture is aiming to produce battery-quality lithium carbonate in Cornwall, using a zinnwaldite lithium mica resource.

This news contrasts with an announcement by fellow Cornish-based lithium developer Cornish Lithium. Last week the company announced that it needed a cash injection of GBP£10.0M (US$12.7M) to continue development of its project, with the company previously having received funding from a mixture of private investors and the UK government.

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The news of a joint venture between Imerys and British Lithium is a positive sign for the UK’s domestic supply of battery and critical raw materials. Recent news, such as British Volt’s collapse into administration earlier in 2023 and Cornish Lithium’s financial trouble, had cast doubt on the UK’s attempts to develop domestic battery raw material supply chains.

The Imerys-British Volt JV may help to partially alleviate those doubts, though with EV demand still set to outstrip lithium material supply over the next decade, the industry still has a number of challenges. Imerys and British Volt are not yet producing at a commercial level, and even if the project achieves full capacity, production will represent a fraction of the UK and EU’s total required material for the electric vehicle transition.

 

Source: Project Blue

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