Imerys and British Lithium are forming a joint venture with the aim of becoming the UK’s first integrated producer of battery-grade lithium carbonate. French mining group Imerys has acquired an 80% stake in British Lithium.
As part of the joint venture, Imerys will provide a large lithium deposit. The deposit is estimated to contain 161 million tonnes of resources at a lithium oxide grade of 0.54% (“Inferred resources”), from which a mine life of more than 30 years can be derived. British Lithium is contributing its lithium processing expertise, technical team and lithium pilot plant. The drill program and pre-feasibility study (PFS) are underway.
The planned development will include a quarry, processing plant and conversion plant on the Imerys site to produce high purity lithium. Cornwall would become the leading lithium center in the UK, with a target annual production of 20,000 tons of lithium carbonate equivalent. Enough to equip about 500,000 electric vehicles per year by 2030 and supply about two-thirds of the UK’s estimated battery demand by 2030.
The project will reduce the UK’s dependence on critical raw material imports, helping to meet European and UK climate change targets and create the first fully integrated regional value chain for electric vehicles. By combining this project with the EMILI project in France, Imerys could become the largest integrated lithium producer in Europe, covering more than 20% of announced European lithium production by 2030.
Alessandro Dazza, Chief Executive Officer of Imerys, said, “This acquisition is a milestone in Imerys’ journey to become a key partner in the energy transition. Building on our recent investment in the EMILI project in France, we are uniquely positioned to become a leading supplier of lithium in the UK and Europe. We look forward to unlocking the combined potential of British Lithium and Imerys to make Cornwall a successful lithium hub, building on its centuries-old mining heritage.”
British Lithium has been drilling and exploring on Imery’s territory in Cornwall since 2017 and has also developed a pilot plant to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate. It has received financial support from Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency, and the Automotive Transformation Fund, a funding program to support the electrification of vehicles and their supply chains in the UK.
Imerys employs 1,100 people across the UK, of which 830 are based in Cornwall. This includes five opencast mines in Cornwall and Devon. The planned mine is expected to meet the highest social and environmental standards and comply with the IRMA standard for responsible mining.