The Cornish lithium thing

Jim asks:

Any comment on this similar venture:

https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/cornwalls-lithium-potential-global-significance-4523338

There is lithium in them thar hills, yes. That sort of tin/tungsten mineralisation is commonly associated with lithium presence. The same is true over in the Ore Mountains which are geologically rather similar.

The difference is that as the mountains wear down and the tin/tungsten ore is released (in both of those places, Cornwall and Krusny Hory, the “mining” started as panning in streams) the lithium is soluble and so runs away. So, the vast piles of cassiterite (the same tin ore) already separated out by water action at Bangka and Belitung will not be lithium containing.

So, there’s lithium in the rock. If there’s hot water – that geothermic stuff – that’s oozing through the rock then yes, that will be enriched in lithium. So, the Cornish claim is that it’s nice and rich in lithium. Rich I don’t know, but the base idea is true. There is a similar find/claim over in those Ore Mountains/Kruzny Hory.

And a major – perhaps majority, not sure – source of lithium is brines. Salty waters that are coming up from these sorts of geothermal water complexes in Chile and Bolivia and stuff.

So, yes, logically it all pins together. And there are other Cornish sources. I’ve seen papers on extraction from the slurry ponds of china clay pits. China clay being this same rock – well, -ish – which has been worn down by erosion. Volumes recoverable from the china clay slurries might not be worthwhile even as it’s definitely possible.

What I haven’t got a clue about is whether this is viable. Is the Li there? Sure. What will it cost to get it out? Dunno.

I can even proffer an idea for an ambitious type. That same mineralisation runs across central Africa from Congo over into Madagascar. All that columbo-tantalite – coltan to NGOs – is closely allied with the same sort of geological set up. In fact, I’d insist that there’s lots and lots of lithium in them thar hills. Vast chunks of it even.

It might even be cheaper to extract it from Cornish brines, who knows?

17 thoughts on “The Cornish lithium thing”

  1. From what little I have read / heard on the grapevine this is a good money extraction project… Not from selling lithium, from governments and investor hopeful of being in early on the next big thing…

    Similar to the wave plug in St Ives… Sounds good on paper but yet to prove real world value.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    A remember a Tomorrow’s World from either the late ’60s or early ’70s showing a prototype energy from waves project and promising endless cheap energy. I think they were planning on using it to power those flying cars we were promised.

  3. The problem with waves is there really isn’t much energy in them. If you doubt this, try a little experiment next time you bath. How little energy is required, just using your hand at the correct frequency, to create waves will overflow the tub.

  4. “From what little I have read / heard on the grapevine this is a good money extraction project… Not from selling lithium, from governments and investor hopeful of being in early on the next big thing…”

    I think we are going to see a lot more of these projects, designed to attract the eco-pound, whether from the State or private investor mugs. Projects that don’t have much more chance of making it than an icecube in hell, but that create a great virtue signalling opportunity for the usual suspects.

  5. @BiND

    A remember a Tomorrow’s World from either the late ’60s or early ’70s showing a prototype energy from waves project

    These were a staple of the Look and Learn magazines I used read as nipper 40 years ago.

  6. “The problem with waves is there really isn’t much energy in them.” On the contrary the problem is that there’s so much energy that they batter your equipment.

  7. I’m with dearieme on this – there is more than enough energy in the sea to capture but it is very unpredictable and changes from flat nothing to ship sinking in the same place over a day and none of the generation ideas can cope with producing energy in both situations.

    My other issue with sea energy is where does it come from and what effect does removing it have? Conservation of energy and all that… Wind farms change the temperature down stream of them by 1 degree if I remember correctly as there is less wind…

  8. ““The problem with waves is there really isn’t much energy in them.” On the contrary the problem is that there’s so much energy that they batter your equipment.”

    Batter? Is that where the idea for tempura came from?

  9. These were a staple of the Look and Learn magazines I used read as nipper 40 years ago.

    We used to get those, used to love reading the Trigan Empire comic.

    Friends of my mum used to buy it for their three sons, but removed the comic section before letting the boys read it. They managed to get all three to grammar school, where, combined, they amassed one O Level.

  10. According to a World Bank report, The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition:

    Under a 2-degree scenario (2DS), production of graphite, lithium, and cobalt will need to be significantly ramped up by more
    than 450 percent by 2050—from 2018 levels—to meet demand from energy storage technologies.

    This is for a scenario where renewables account for about 50% of energy generation in 2050. Noting that:

    These projections do not include the associated infrastructure needed to support the deployment of these technologies (for example, transmission lines) or the physical parts (like the chassis of newly built electric vehicles). Because of the material intensity of low-carbon technologies, any potential shortages in mineral supply could impact the speed and scale at which certain technologies may be deployed globally.

    The new mines will not come on stream without a fight, the likes of Extinction Rebellion are opposed to all mining. They don’t want to change the nature of the supply, they’d prefer to drastically reduce demand, condemning billions to extreme poverty.

  11. Desert environments consolidate lithium. Water dissolves lithium from the surrounding mountains and deposits it in lakes between the mountains. Global warming does the rest. Repeat for millennia and you get significant deposits. Nevada is a really good place for this to happen.

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