Drilling and resource definition in Cornwall

UK mining deal to provide enough lithium to power 500,000 EVs

Nic Ryan

A joint UK mining venture between Imerys and British Lithium has been proposed to create the UK's largest lithium mining venture. It is claimed that the venture would produce enough Lithium carbonate to power 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) by the end of the decade.

Imerys, a mineral-based specialty solutions company, has acquired an 80% stake in British Lithium. The partnership will benefit from Imerys’ existing mining footprint in Cornwall, as well as its lithium expertise developed through its EMILI project in France. The mine will adhere to the highest social and environmental standards and follow the IRMA Standard. 

“This joint venture between Imerys and British Lithium will strengthen our domestic supply of critical minerals, which is vitally important as we seek to grow the UK’s advanced manufacturing industry and help create the jobs of the future,” said Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch.

“This partnership shows again that the UK remains an attractive destination for international investment and will boost economic prosperity, support green industries, and bolster our energy security – not only in Cornwall, but right across the UK.”

Following drilling and resource definition, the resources discovered give sufficient confidence to target a life of mine exceeding 30 years at a production rate of 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent per year.

The resources are potentially enough to meet roughly two-thirds of Britain’s estimated battery demand by 2030 when all UK car manufacturers convert to electric vehicles.

The transaction has been approved by the UK Government, under the National Security Investment Act protocol.

It is believed that the project will generate new job opportunities and foster economic growth in Cornwall. Currently, the Group employs 1,100 people across the UK, of which 830 are located in Cornwall, including five world-class open-pit mine sites in Cornwall and Devon.

“This acquisition is a milestone in Imerys’ journey to becoming a key partner in the energy transition,” said Alessandro Dazza, CEO of Imerys. 

“Building on our recent investment in the EMILI Project in France, we are uniquely placed to become a leading supplier of lithium in the UK and Europe.

“We look forward to unlocking the joint potential of British Lithium and Imerys to make Cornwall a successful lithium hub, building on its centuries-old mining heritage.”

British Lithium received financial support from Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency, and the Automotive Transformation Fund, a funding program to support the electrification of vehicles and their supply chains in the UK.

"After working closely with Imerys several years, the Directors, shareholders, and staff of British Lithium are delighted to formalise their partnership with Imerys and are confident that this alignment of interests will propel us toward continued rapid progress,” said Roderick Smith, Chairman of British Lithium.

“This marks a key milestone for British Lithium, Imerys, and the entire lithium battery industry, as they embark on a journey to establish a sustainable future for lithium production in the United Kingdom."