Friday, 6 December 2019

Exciting times ahead for the extraction of lithium in Cornwall

2019 has been another momentous year for Cornish Lithium, an innovative mineral extraction company using cutting-edge digital technology to evaluate the potential of extracting lithium from geothermal waters that circulate deep beneath the surface of Cornwall.
The company has commenced drilling two research holes in the Gwennap area, close to the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project. This year included a successful crowdfunding campaign, which raised over £1.4m, and the award of funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge. These funds have enabled Cornish Lithium to continue their work to identify deposits of lithium and other battery metals in Cornwall which they hope will enable the UK to develop its own supply chain of critical raw materials for a modern battery industry.
To celebrate all this the company hosted a Christmas party earlier this week at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, where invited guests had the opportunity of meeting the CEO, Jeremy Wrathall and his impressive team, particularly the young geoscientists who have determined the precise location of the boreholes following three years of extensive research and digital modelling of the subsurface.
It was a particular pleasure to congratulate senior geologist Lucy Crane on her recent award of Young Rising Star in Mining at last month's Outstanding Achievement Awards and Gala Dinner, hosted by Mines & Money in London. All the more pleasing as both Jeremy and Lucy are Camborne School of Mines graduates, Jeremy with a BSc in Mining Engineering and Lucy an MSc in Mining Geology.
Jeremy and Lucy
Drilling will be to between 800m and 1000m, adjacent to the former Wheal Clifford mine, this being particularly significant as the original discovery of lithium in brine was made at Wheal Clifford in 1864 by Professor Miller of Kings College, London, who noted that the occurrence of “so large an amount of lithium” in hot springs could be commercially significant.
Drilling commences in the old mining region
Extensive mining for tin and copper that took place in Gwennap Parish in centuries past has yielded a wealth of information that indicates that lithium is present in geothermal waters deep beneath historic mine workings at United Downs, and Cornish Lithium is drilling to intercept these natural features well below the depths reached during historic mining operations and is not targeting water in the old mines themselves.
The team are hoping to intersect two to three permeable structures in each hole, and will be isolating and sampling the geothermal waters circulating within each of them. These ‘geothermal’ waters are now understood to circulate through natural permeable structures which act as pathways through the otherwise impermeable rock. Currently they are just over halfway through the first hole so should finish that before Christmas, and the second one in the New Year.
Expect to hear much more of Cornish Lithium in 2020, and a great deal on lithium processing, both from brines and hard rock ores, at Hi-Tech Metals '20 in October.

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