British Lithium secures £2.9m Innovate UK funding to fuel the UK’s EV and battery manufacturing industry
British Lithium has secured a £2.9m Innovate UK grant to build a pilot lithium extraction plant, accelerate its route to commercialisation and provide critical natural resources to boost the UK’s Electric Vehicle (EV) manufacturing industry.
British Lithium’s pilot plant will produce samples tailored to individual customers’ requirements and once tested and proven, the company aims to begin full-scale production of 21,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate a year within the next three to five years.
Access to high-quality lithium is projected to be a key factor in the international race to build EV battery gigafactories.
“America, China and Europe all desperately want to attract EV plants,” said Roderick Smith, Chairman of British Lithium. “The winners are going to be the EV producers and the losers will lose their car industries. In the UK, cars are our biggest export commodity and so economically speaking, nothing could be more important.”
The Faraday Institute predicts that without domestic battery manufacturing, the UK will lose 114,000 existing automotive jobs by 2040. Conversely, if it can produce lithium batteries at scale, eight gigafactories will be needed by 2040, with automotive jobs growing from 186,000 to 246,000.
During last week’s PMQs, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson described Cornwall as the “Klondike of lithium” – referring to the 19th century Gold Rush in the Canadian region. The Government’s recent Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy prioritises the domestic extraction of lithium and acknowledges funding for British Lithium’s pilot plant as part of that commitment.
Andrew Smith, Chief Executive, British Lithium, said: “We are delighted to have won Government recognition of our important work in Cornwall and the significant contribution we’ll be making to “building back better” and achieving zero carbon emissions.
“The results achieved so far have exceeded all expectations and we are now looking forward to expanding our operation to showcase what is possible – not just locally and nationally, but globally too. We’re very grateful for the help and support of Innovate UK.”