Skip to content

Well, yes, and no, not really

British Lithium, which is partly funded by Government grants, has been conducting tests on the open pit mine since 2017.

Granite deposits at the mine are believed to contain around 0.54pc lithium oxide, a promising level to extract the crucial battery metal.

The site will include a quarry and processing facilities to extract high-purity lithium.

The joint venture, which will be 80pc owned by Imerys, is a significant boost to Britain’s electric car ambitions. It comes after the collapse of Britishvolt, which had aimed to build one of the country’s only gigafactory battery production plants, and as rival miner Cornish Lithium warns it needs millions in new funding to avoid collapse. A House of Lords committee report two years ago had warned that the UK needs to step up lithium mining in Cornwall to rescue its car industry.

Imerys owns what used to be English China Clay.

0.5% Li in a hard rock deposit would be thought to be, well, marginal at very, very, best.

But china clay is a kaolin, which is formed from the weathering down of granites, granite is often a host rock of Li ….and you can see where this is going, right? If the weather has already done the grinding for you then you can afford to extract from a lower grade resource….

16 thoughts on “Well, yes, and no, not really”

  1. So is it promising? Or is it a combination of wishful thinking and thick useless civil servants throwing our money at an unworkable project?

    At least lithium is a real thing with practical uses, not like the hydrogen and carbon capture bollocks the government likes to fund.

  2. “one of the country’s only …`’; another silly Americanism.

    You can’t be “one of an only” – an “only” means only one. Probably he meant “one of the country’s few …” or perhaps he meant “the country’s only” and then got cold feet. Either way he’s a bit of a tit.

    I suppose Americans favour “only” over “few” because “only” has an extra syllable.

    Maybe some conscious learnings would expedite an advancement regarding his writing modalities.

  3. It’ll certainly be interesting to see if the great lithium boom takes place. But this depends on the great EV boom taking place.

    The one thing that seems sure is that, given the high level of energy storage required by an EV, there’ll be plenty of booms when the things catch fire.

  4. If there is some Lithium as a contaminant in the kaolin, so that it is extracted as a waste product, then the economics are significantly improved. I don’t have any clues about the amount of waste from a china clay mine but I’m confident that it is a lot less than 10% (otherwise the spoli heaps would be big hills/small mountains) so the concentration of lithium in waste will be >5% LiO instead of 0.54%

  5. If the lithium miner is going to sell his product (if ever produced) at market value (ie, what the car companies would have to pay for Li sourced elsewhere, plus transport), then that produces no advantage to the car companies, and so can’t “rescue [the] car industry.” If the car makers are to be “rescued,” the Lithium miner has to sell Li below market it’s market value – and why should their shareholders (including the government) subsidize car makers that way?
    The whole idea is a circle-jerk.
    We had the same thing some years back with sawmills complaining that logging companies should accept below-market value for raw logs so the sawmills could “remain competitive” – news bulletin, boyo, you already aren’t competitive, you’ve only now realized it.

  6. We must have A Great Leap Forward. Send our china to backyard quarries so that the lithium can be extracted.

    Or, if quarrying on site is required, perhaps the locals should insist on the same seismic restrictions on quarrying as fracking for natural gas.
    But there are rules for companies and rules for government, ‘cos the government makes the rules.

  7. “to rescue its car industry.”

    How about making cars that people want to buy?
    You know, petrol ones.

    Carpet bombing. Rent controls. Net Zero.

  8. @Gunker

    I think it just refers to manufacturing capacity, but according to the font of all knowledge “The term is therefore understood to generically refer to large industrial facilities which are associated with the decarbonization and electrification trend”

    Diversionary marketing wank in other words.

  9. Thanks @Mark

    I assumed it was somehow trying to somehow shoehorn the SI prefix which is associated with electrical energy/ power, with some eco wank to fool the gullible

  10. It’s concentrated in the waste mica slurry that goes to lagoons for settling. Most of the comminution and concentration is already done. However, refining to usable grade is still very expensive.

  11. Report in the Nikkei this morning that lithium and other battery metal prices have plummeted this year, due to slowing demand in China for EVs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *