Welcome to our Q&A Session with Founding Member Cornish Lithium, and CL's Founder Jeremy Wrathall. Cornish Lithium is evaluating the possible extraction of lithium from geothermal waters and from hard-rock sources, such as granite, in Cornwall.
Jeremy graduated in Mining Engineering at the Camborne School of Mines, has over 30 years of experience in the mining finance industry and has advised mining companies on transactions globally.
The Q&A will cover:
Cornish Lithium's origins
Potential of the UK's South West/ Cornwall
CL's role in UK EV supply chains
CL's use of historic/ contemporary data to assemble digital models
1) CMA: How did Cornish Lithium start?
Jeremy: Cornish Lithium was started to investigate the possibility of establishing a lithium industry in Cornwall. Numerous historical records show the presence of lithium in geothermal waters circulating naturally below the surface of Cornwall and new technologies have been developed in recent years which may allow this lithium to be commercially extracted.
2) CMA: Why did you decide to focus on lithium?
Jeremy: The focus on lithium stems from the fact that lithium is the “gateway metal” to a zero-carbon future as it allows the storage of renewable energy in batteries. These batteries can be used in electric vehicles and in large scale electrical power storage for the grid. Volkswagen Group have identified lithium as “The Irreplaceable Element of the Electric Era.” With this in mind it is essential that the UK has its own source of lithium in order to be able to compete in an age where supply chains are coming under increased pressure following the Covid-19 pandemic.
3) CMA: What is the potential for the South West to source critical minerals and technology metals?
Jeremy: We believe that the South West has excellent potential to source critical minerals and technology metals given the distinct geology that exists between the Isles of Scilly in the west and Dartmoor in the east. The huge mass of granite that lies beneath this whole area has been the source of many metals in the past – including copper, tin, tungsten, cobalt, lead, zinc, silver and lithium. Our exploration efforts have already demonstrated the potential that remains and we are increasingly excited about the opportunities that we have identified to extract lithium from geothermal waters and from the granite itself in certain areas. We now believe that both these sources have the potential to supply meaningful amounts of lithium into battery plants in the UK and we are currently working towards commercialising these opportunities as quickly as possible.
In addition, working in Cornwall has been a very positive experience with good engagement right across the community. The fact that mining is still very much part of the economy helps considerably and we are careful not to take this for granted, ensuring our work is undertaken responsibly and in line with community engagement.
4) CMA: How is your work contributing to developments in EV supply chains?
Jeremy: We believe that our work is vital to the future of supply chains in the UK given the fact that existing supply chains have been brought into question by the Covid-19 pandemic. A domestic, sustainable, source of technology metals will give increased confidence to battery manufacturers looking to build factories in the UK. It is significant that the UK Government is beginning to recognise the strategic advantage that a domestic source of lithium might bring.
5) CMA: In addition to producing lithium, what are Cornish Lithium's other goals?
Jeremy: In addition to lithium we are also examining the potential to apply modern mining and processing methods to deposits of tin and copper. Our portfolio of mineral rights agreements gives us the opportunity to examine large areas of the County for deposits that
might be amenable to modern extraction techniques that were not available in the past. We are using a combination of historic and contemporary data to assemble digital models of possible orebodies which could be mined in the future. This involves the use of cutting edge computing and digital modelling and has already revealed some extraordinary opportunities. It was amazing to discover a very significant copper deposit whilst we were drilling one of our lithium exploration holes – which just goes to show the potential that Cornwall still holds!
6) CMA: Why did you decide to join the CMA?
Jeremy: We decided to join the CMA given that it is a well-informed voice in government and can highlight the importance of critical metals in the modern economy. As Britain transitions away from fossil fuels and aspires to be a zero-carbon nation by 2050 this is an increasingly important topic.
Learn more about Cornish Lithium and their work here: https://www.cornishlithium.com/
To contact the team, email firstname.lastname@example.org