Here’s the thing

A useful little eye into mining:

Cornish Lithium has secured an £18m investment to speed up the development of its mining projects as the UK attempts to wean itself off a reliance on Chinese minerals.

OK.

Cornish Lithium argues the reserves underneath Cornwall are “globally significant”, thanks to a huge layer of granite running from the Isles of Scilly in the west to Dartmoor in the east.

Some of the rock is immersed in saline water, meaning it can be pumped to the surface.

There’s, erm, sorta, two types of mining. 1) “Is there anything there”? and 2) “It’s there, now, can we get it out economically?”

This is definitely 2). That Li is there, no doubt about it. As there should be associated with granite and tin. There’s that hot water flowing through the rock. Li is soluble in water, it’s in the water. Cool!

The Q here is whether it can be extracted economically? My bet would be yes. Modern work on desalination plants means membranes and all that are much better understood than they were even two or three decades back. Getting geothermal energy from it as well will aid too.

Now, of course, I don’t actually know, but that’s the way I would bet. Make of that what you will.

For then we come to the next bit. Which is that this sort of geothermal resource isn’t in fact all that rare. I know of at least two more regions where this will be true and I’ve not even gone looking. Knowing that extraction is economic is a public good – can’t stop someone knowing it nor using that knowledge once it exists. So, whether the mine actually makes a profit in the long term is another thing as success here will almost certainly mean those other sources also coming online.

7 thoughts on “Here’s the thing”

  1. “as the UK attempts to wean itself off a reliance on Chinese minerals.”

    There’s a vast amount of detail wrapped up and glossed over in that. A new lithium source isn’t going to help with rare earths, or cobalt or any other technological mineral.

  2. Well yeah. If Oz can do this with uranium, I don’t see why everyone else can’t do it as well if they’ve got some sort of soluble mineral deposit. Which answers a whinge I just glanced at in New Scientist – ok my error I admit!!!! – that digging up all that dirt to scoop up the minerals produces colossal quantities of waste.

    Of course to me something is waste only if it gets in my way. I’m thinking of the park at the back of my place. I still remember the stink of the garbage they dumped on it, and then covered with coal ash. But these days I feel its a very nice little place.

  3. Aberdeen is the granite city. Any chance of Grampian lithium mines? Get rid of those unsightly mountains and bogs.

  4. @Boganboy North Stradbroke Island.. Huge pit, but with the caveat they have to put things back later, which they have done in the old sites.

    Most of the tourists coming for Marriage Cove or Ten Mile Beach don’t even realise that a significant part of their sunscreen came from just a couple of miles back inland.

  5. Given how the government treated Quadrilla’s fracking efforts, I wouldn’t invest in a resource extraction project in the UK. How much money will they spend up front, only to be told that it’s politically unviable?

  6. Interestingly, the DT headline for this story was “Heavy Metal”.

    Heavy? Lithium? Yeah that’ll be right.

  7. From article:
    Boris Johnson “We are going to use freeports to ensure that we support them as hubs for the processing of those critical minerals here in the UK.”

    Lies; they’ve been watered down to be virtually meaningless

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