Test boreholes are to be drilled at Gwennap to see whether the parish is a source of a metal at the very forefront of technology.

The parish already has a long history of tin and copper mining, dating back centuries, and it could now be at the centre of the industry again - this time extracting a much more modern material: lithium.

This is a vital component of lithium-ion batteries, such as those used in electric vehicles and mobile phones, and there is increasing demand for the metal.

Now, following discussions with landowners, Cornish Lithium - an exploration company using digital technology - there are plans to drill two or three test boreholes in the Gwennap area, to see what potential there is to extract lithium from the geothermal waters that occur naturally below historic mine workings at United Downs.

The boreholes will be approximately 1,000 metres deep and 12 centimetres in diameter.

Falmouth Packet:

A diagram showing how the samples will be collected

Cornish Lithium’s drilling manager Mike Round said: "Our geologists will take samples from these boreholes to measure the amount of lithium that is contained within the geothermal waters.

"We are currently in conversation with local landowners and hope to agree on suitable drilling sites by the end of June.”

The drill rig will be about the size of a large transit van and working hours and noise levels will be controlled by the requirements of Cornwall Council, he added.

“The Environment Agency will be fully consulted before the work commences, all drill sites will be fully reinstated and boreholes will be capped as soon as this work is complete.

"Our findings will guide Cornish Lithium’s future exploration programme, the aim of which is to assess the possibility and commercial viability of extracting lithium from geothermal waters in Cornwall,” said Mr Round.

For more information about the drilling programme email drilling@cornishlithium.com or call Mike Round on 07717 290923.

The tests coincide with the government announcing it is granting 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 different energy sources.