In the corner of a nondescript industrial area just outside Cornwall, a small faucet juts out of the rubble.
A technician, wearing a visor to protect himself not from Covid but from heat, gently turns the faucet and a clear liquid quietly flows out and into a plastic bottle.
Yeah yeah But it’s not water, or not exactly. In fact, it is brine, and what it contains represents the potential transformation of not just the Cornish economy, but the whole of the UK economy.
Boris Johnson at a press conference on the final day of the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall
For it is here, in this industrial area, that the practical end of a British company’s efforts to create a domestic lithium production industry is beginning to bear fruit.
Cornish Lithium was the brainchild of mining veteran Jeremy Wrathall, who a few years ago discovered centuries-old reports of hot liquids appearing in some of Cornwall’s ancient tin and copper mines.
It took a man with a trained mining eye and a keen awareness of the latest commodity market dynamics to sum up two and two.
Once upon a time, the hot brines that gushed into Cornwall’s underground mines were a very unwelcome distraction. Now, however, they could be the key to unlocking an emerging multi-million or billion-dollar industry.
Lithium is in great demand for use in electric vehicles and the next generation of energy storage batteries, and the UK has been a key manufacturing base for the European auto market over the past few decades.
But Brexit complicated matters in this regard as new treaties stipulate that a certain amount of raw materials for industrial goods must be sourced locally. Where does the UK get the raw materials that allow its auto production to continue to thrive?
The small faucet in the industrial park offers one possible answer.
How much lithium can be extracted from the brines in Cornwall is an open question. However, based on what we have learned so far, it is unlikely to be small, and in fact, it is entirely possible that a decade-long supply could be available.
Cornish Lithium has put together a sizeable land package and is confident that when appropriate testing is completed and the time comes for commercial production to begin, it will be able to produce the lion’s share of lithium in brines that Cornwall will end up with produced.
There are also hard rock mines in the background, but right now the brines are the focus because the footprint is so small and the advantage is so big.
Lithium is in great demand for use in electric vehicles and the next generation of energy storage batteries
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