Redruth is to be home to the extraction of lithium for use in electric vehicles and batteries.

The project will see the build of Europe's first geothermal lithium recovery pilot plant - and could see Cornwall becoming the UK's 'battery metals hub'.

It is to be funded by the government's Getting Building Fund.

This investment supports a £4m collaboration between Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL) and Cornish Lithium at GEL's deep geothermal project at United Downs.

The companies aim to demonstrate that lithium can be produced from geothermal waters with a net zero carbon footprint.

The lithium extraction pilot plant at United Downs will trial environmentally-responsible Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology, and its suitability to extract lithium from Cornish geothermal waters.

DLE technology has been developed by various companies for the extraction of lithium from geothermal waters in the United States, Europe, New Zealand and other locations globally.

The optimal DLE technology for Cornish waters is currently being selected, however the processes being considered utilise technologies, such as nanofiltration, to selectively remove lithium compounds from the water, rather than relying on evaporation and other less environmentally friendly methods.

Once the lithium has been extracted, the waters will be returned to depth via injection boreholes.

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The granite rocks beneath Cornwall are rich in lithium and heat, and recent tests run by Cornish Lithium and GEL have demonstrated that both the geothermal and the lithium resources are potentially commercially viable given recent advances in extraction technologies.

Jeremy Wrathall, founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium, said: “Cornish Lithium is delighted to be involved in this project alongside GEL given the potential to establish a new industry for Cornwall.

"This funding will significantly accelerate our work to demonstrate that lithium can be produced in a sustainable, zero-carbon manner and will enable us to fast-track similar projects in other locations across Cornwall once the plant has been completed.

"We believe that Cornwall has the potential to become the 'battery metals hub' for the UK, thus continuing a 4,000-year history of metal production and industrial innovation.”

Falmouth Packet:

Jeremy Wrathall - founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium

Dr Ryan Law, managing director of Geothermal Engineering Ltd, said: “We have made significant strides in establishing the UK’s first deep geothermal power plant in the UK.

"The possibility of developing future sites that include co-production of lithium extraction is very exciting and a great opportunity for both companies and Cornwall as a whole.

"We believe Cornwall’s untapped natural resources are significant, and are delighted to be partnering with Cornish Lithium to maximise the synergies between the two technologies in order to unlock this potential.”