The UK lithium supply chain: 4 UK-based lithium companies

By Published On: May 18th, 20232.7 min read

Green Lithium

Green Lithium is establishing Europe’s first merchant lithium refinery in Teesside. The Green Lithium plant will be close to PD Port, enabling them to supply lithium to Europe’s growing battery manufacturing industries.

Green Lithium will secure unrefined lithium and refine it into a product for sale to battery makers and EV companies. Green Lithium has partnered with Trafigura to secure the supply of lithium feedstock.

Watch Green Lithium Investor Presentation.

China dominates lithium refining currently, and companies manufacturing electric vehicles and lithium batteries rely on the Chinese supply of refined products.

Green Lithium aims to establish the UK as an integral part of the European lithium supply chain, making the UK and EU more competitive and less dependent on Chinese exports.

The company has secured investment from the UK Government’s Automotive Transformation Fund and will generate 100s of jobs in the area.

When visiting Green Lithium, Grant Schapps, Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, said: “We’re backing companies, like Green Lithium here in Teesside, to grow the new, green industries across the UK, sparking jobs and growth for decades to come.”

You can find out more about Green Lithium here.

Northern Lithium

Northern Lithium has arranged mineral licenses and is undertaking exploration activities in County Durham, North East England.

Northern Lithium began drilling in May 2022 and, in September 2022, confirmed the presence of economically viable lithium encounters in geothermal waters at the Ludwell Gate project.

The company is targeting 5,000-10,000 tonnes per year of battery-grade lithium in the next 5-8 years.

Northern Lithium is evaluating Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) techniques.

The company was founded by Richard Morecombe, who has a small and mid-cap broking background and is currently President and Head of Equities at Panmure Gordon.

Cornish Lithium

In 2021, Cornish Lithium announced a JORC-compliant maiden resource at their Trelavour Lithium Project of 51.7mt Inferred Mineral Resource at 0.24% lithium oxide for a total of 122.4kt of contained Li20.

The subsequent scoping study in 2022 gave the project an estimated NPV8 of $318.6 million and a post-tax IRR of 24.4%. Capital expenditure is initially forecast to be $243.8 million, including contingency.

Cornish Lithium and Northern Lithium announced a collaboration in 2022 which aims to share their expertise and develop DLE techniques for UK-based lithium mines.

Cornish Lithium and Northern Lithium are focusing on geothermal brines, which require several stages of evaporation and processing before a saleable product is achieved.

DLE is an experimental form of lithium extraction, and many companies globally are trialling pilot plants and processing techniques.

Should Cornish Lithium’s efforts yield positive results for the efficient and low-emission extraction of lithium from brines, other mines may adopt their process in the future.

British Lithium

British Lithium was the first company to make a significant lithium discovery in the UK and has since received more than £5m in grants from the UK government.

British Lithium plans to develop its project based in the St Austell area of Cornwall after encountering clay lithium deposits in a 2019 drill campaign.

The company claims to be the only integrated lithium pilot plant in Europe to integrate a quarry, beneficiation plant and refinery. British Lithium plans to produce over 20,000 tpa of lithium carbonate.

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