UK Government Funding Granted to Develop UK Supply of Lithium

Mining consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong (Consortium lead), exploration company Cornish Lithium and the Natural History Museum (“the Consortium”) are pleased to announce the Government has granted funding for a new study to assess the feasibility of developing a UK supply of lithium. The project, Lithium for the UK (Li4UK), aims to help meet the huge increase in demand for the battery metal anticipated from the transition to electric vehicles.

The funding is part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, designed to develop safe and efficient batteries in the UK to power the next generation of electric vehicles as part of a push for innovative energy solutions. It forms part of the Government’s drive to ‘maintain the UK as a world-leader in the latest technologies and emerging markets, through its modern Industrial Strategy.’ The Consortium will assess the feasibility of extracting and converting a supply of lithium from the UK in to battery-grade material.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, commented: “The Faraday Battery Challenge brings together the UK’s world-class expertise across research and industry to deliver battery technologies that will power the vehicles of the future. The projects announced today emphasise how this collective expertise is being brought to bear on the biggest challenges facing the development of next-generation electric car batteries, from their power source and performance to safety and manufacturing.”

The Faraday Battery Challenge brings together world-leading research and business to accelerate the research needed to develop battery technologies – a crucial move towards a net zero emissions economy in the UK, and a key contributor to all new cars and vans being zero emission by 2040.

Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, said: “We are committed to ensuring our world-leading automotive sector can flourish. These exciting new projects will build on the UK’s reputation for excellence, our rich heritage in the auto industry and pave the way for advances towards a cleaner economy.

We will continue to invest in future car manufacturing, batteries and electrification infrastructure through our modern Industrial Strategy and today’s winners will be crucial in ensuring that the UK leads the world in the global transition to a low carbon economy - one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time.”

Faraday Battery Challenge Director, Tony Harper, said: “This is a massive investment in business-led battery R&D in the UK, supporting innovative technologies and helping to build a UK supply chain that can compete on the global stage.”

The Consortium believes this feasibility study is a vital first step in securing a domestic supply of lithium for the UK battery and automotive industries.

Dr Chris Broadbent, Research Director, Wardell Armstrong International and Project Coordinator commented: “Presently the UK is totally reliant upon imported lithium compounds, with the vast majority supplied from China, for use in the Lithium Ion Batteries (LIBs) that will power the electric vehicles of the future. This is the first project funded by the Faraday Battery Challenge that examines the potential to provide lithium from UK sources, including rocks and brines. I believe it can be of great significance to development and the creation of a 21st century, green mining industry in the UK.”

Jeremy Wrathall, Founder & CEO of Cornish Lithium Ltd. commented: “This is an historic opportunity for Cornwall to participate in the development of a possible source of lithium for the UK. We are delighted to be part of the Consortium and look forward to working with Wardell Armstrong and the Natural History Museum on this exciting project.

By bringing together experts in the field, the Consortium hopes to produce research which will enable the UK to power the next generation of electric vehicles and build upon its reputation for excellence.” 

Dr Robin Armstrong, Researcher at the Natural History Museum London and a Co-Investigator commented: “In order for the UK to maintain its position as a world leader in lithium battery technology development for future low emission technologies, there is a need for a secure and ethically sourced supply of raw materials. The Li4UK project will allow us the opportunity to explore the potential for lithium resources domestically. This work will build on our existing investigations into the geodiversity of elements such as cobalt, nickel and copper required for our society’s future clean technologies.”