Just so you know about the Cornish lithium

Cornwall looks set for a £50billion mining revolution after plans were revealed to make Poldark country Europe’s sole producer of lithium.
Lithium – known as ‘white petroleum’ – is used in the rapidly growing market for electric cars and rechargeable batteries in everything from mobile phones to cordless vacuums.
Most lithium is produced in South America, Australia and China but there are vast quantities locked inside its large granite stores up to 1,000 metres below the Cornish soil.

But with no European source the UK Government has earmarked lithium as a metal of strategic importance to the country and new mines could be opened or existing ones brought back into action.

I don’t say that this will work and I’m certainly not suggesting that you invest.

However, it is at least realistic .

There’s plenty of lithium around, any number of places you could get it from (there are at least two plans within 10 km of where I am now in Bohemia). But two good starts are with granite and with hot brines. And here in Cornwall they’re talking about extraction from hot brines running through granite – an entirely reasonable starting point.

Myself I would check on one other source before charging ahead though. The wastes from the China clay industry will have a decent amount of lithium in them and God Knows there’s enough of that lying about…..

28 comments on “Just so you know about the Cornish lithium

  1. Bolivia has got a whole great big salt desert full of the stuff. It looks like it would be about as cheap as table salt – if only the Bolivians were willing to let some foreign capital and expertise into the region.

    While I believe in the deep and basically unredeemable fecklessness of the Latin character – and they might think that as they have plundered Latin America for generations without giving anything back, everyone else would do so too if given a chance – to invest based on the Bolivians *never* wising up seems a dubious proposition.

  2. It looks like it would be about as cheap as table salt – if only the Bolivians were willing to let some foreign capital and expertise into the region.

    In defence of the Bolivians, I have first-hand experience of a Bolivian industrial project managed by foreigners, and I can’t help thinking the Bolivians would have been a lot better doing it themselves.

    I don’t know if it was always like this, but nowadays I think a lot of “foreign expertise” coming into the developing world is a bit like Accenture turning up in a company.

  3. Bolivia has a railway system that connects to the Pacific ocean via Chile. Bolivia also has a railway system that connects to the Atlantic ocean via Sao Paolo in Brazil.

    But you cannot send a shipping container from Sao Paolo to the Pacific ocean in order to put it on a ship and send it to China. Instead it has to be put on a ship that goes the long way around the bottom of the continent. Because the western half of Bolivia’s collapsing railway system does not connect with the eastern half of Bolivia’s collapsing railway system.

    If the Bolivians could get their sh!t together, they could have the wealth of half the continent flowing through their country to the enormous enrichment of everyone concerned.

    As awful as the French are, you can send a shipping container from Germany to Spain.

  4. Lithium – known as ‘white petroleum’ – is used in the rapidly growing market for electric cars and rechargeable batteries

    I’m afraid all the world’s lithium supplies will be needed to medicate SJWs driven to madness by Trump, Brexit etc…

  5. Hey, isn’t this just the project for the Green Investment Bank – use the spoil from China Clay production to extract lithium, turning waste into something useful. The economics cannot be worse than that windfarm they just bought.

  6. Has anyone told these special snow flakes that all that Cornish lithium is the product of nuclear fission? It is actually nuclear waste.

    As I think BiCR corrected me once, it is mostly the result of Cosmic ray spallation.

    I think the only safe option is to leave it buried in the ground and to use the much safer options instead. Like lead.

  7. WHITE petroleum?

    White PETROLEUM?

    The more that’s dug up, the more the SJW will be eating it by the spoonful just at the thought of it. A virtuous circle. Buy shares now!

  8. China and Bolivia have a huge advantage – no twattish middle-class wankers who will handcuff themselves to any site (or if they do, they won’t for long).

  9. Some of the Cornish lithium reserves should be earmarked for treating Professor Spud’s mental illnesses. Large doses will be needed.

  10. This is a corker. They’ll need to frill down just below the water table to where the brine is, then pump radioactive brine up through the water table.

    Remind you of anything?

  11. Er…SMfS. Take a look at this map & see if you can spot a trivial feature might make uniting Bolivia’s rail networks a tad problematic. Here’s a clue for you. It’s not fucking Lincolnshire.

  12. Take a look at this map & see if you can spot a trivial feature might make uniting Bolivia’s rail networks a tad problematic.

    No reason they can’t hire a bunch of Swiss alpine railway tunnellers. There’s been a train going up the inside of the Eiger for over 100 years now.

    Yes, before the pendants state the obvious, I know those particular Swiss tunnellers will be long dead by now, but I bet the Swiss didn’t stop there.

  13. I know those particular Swiss tunnellers will be long dead by now, but I bet the Swiss didn’t stop there.

    No they didn’t – Lötschberg Base Tunnel & now Gotthard Base Tunnel just opened.

  14. “Lithium – known as ‘white petroleum’ – is used in the rapidly growing market for electric cars and rechargeable batteries”

    For now.

    Who knows what’s round the corner and the last thing we need is an investment bubble. At least I did see any tax payers money being thrown at it in the article, but that doesn’t mean it won’t or hasn’t.

    Anyone investing in this needs to do some serious
    battery technology DD.

  15. There’s a reason we use Lithium in batteries, it’s its position in the periodic table (and its resultant electrochemical properties) and that ain’t changing any time soon. It’s true that we might come up with a better method of storing electricity than electrochemically, but there’s no sign of it, even in the labs, so I think Lithium should be a safe bet for at least a decade or two.

  16. SMFS: most lithium is primordial, as in made in the Big Bang. Cosmic ray spallation is responsible for synthesis since then but that’s more significant for beryllium and boron (it’s especially hard to make beryllium in a star).

  17. Chris,

    Its a while since I did any battery technology work, so I’ll take your word for it, but I still reckon on a serious DD before investing.

  18. bloke in spain – “Take a look at this map & see if you can spot a trivial feature might make uniting Bolivia’s rail networks a tad problematic. Here’s a clue for you. It’s not fucking Lincolnshire.”

    Thank you for that clue BiS. I had noticed. I did not say it would be trivial. But I note that the Peruvians managed to build a railway line from the coast to Huancayo – 10,000 feet up – over a century ago. Well they allowed an American to do so. You would think that building a line down, from Sucre (9,000 feet) down to the Amazon would not be impossible.

    Bloke in Costa Rica – “most lithium is primordial, as in made in the Big Bang. Cosmic ray spallation is responsible for synthesis since then but that’s more significant for beryllium and boron (it’s especially hard to make beryllium in a star).”

    I could swear the last time I said most lithium was created in the Big Bang, someone corrected me and said most of it is more recent.

  19. Should have been more careful there. The real problem with lithium is there’s a lot less of it than one would naively expect. There’s buckets of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, magnesium, neon etc. but Li, Be and B are quite scarce. Lithium is easily destroyed in stars (i.e. it gets consumed in fusion). Cosmic lithium abundance is mainly down to primordial nucleosynthesis but terrestrial abundance is a bit harder to explain. Earth’s material has been through a star already, and stars are really good at killing lithium. They can build it via spallation, but it appears that spallation is not the primary synthesis mechanism (it is still significant), and that most Li is built in a double alpha process. This is not a good way of making it (double alpha looks like beryllium-8, which mostly falls apart again immediately). What there is of it that is made in stars looks to be created in the outer envelopes of Asymptotic Giant Branch stars and then ejected in the solar wind. It’s a pretty active research topic at the moment.

  20. G-g grandpa built that railway. Well, he was married to g g grandma when she sprogged or close enough at least.

    He didn’t finish it, true, he’s buried up there in the little Anglican church.

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