Cornish Lithium Ltd has revealed that GeoCubed Ltd has successfully commissioned and delivered the direct lithium extraction pilot plant at United Downs.
GeoCubed Ltd., a subsidiary company of Cornish Lithium Ltd, has successfully commissioned and delivered the direct lithium extraction (DLE) pilot plant at Cornish Lithium’s Geothermal Waters Test Facility at United Downs.
The direct lithium extraction pilot plant
The direct lithium extraction pilot plant has been designed to process Cornish geothermal waters by applying DLE technologies and is the first time that a DLE system has become operational in the UK. The £4m pilot plant is being backed by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), receiving a £2.9m grant from the UK Government’s Getting Building Fund. The pilot plant was successfully commissioned at the end of March 2022, on schedule and on budget.
“We are delighted to announce that the United Downs DLE pilot plant has been successfully commissioned on time and on budget,” commented Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and Founder of Cornish Lithium. “This is testament to the hard work and commitment of the GeoCubed team and our technology partners at GeoLith. The pilot plant will be a great asset for the company as we work to establish the most appropriate DLE technology with which to process Cornish geothermal waters.
“I am also pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement with GEL to acquire their shareholding in GeoCubed so that it is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Cornish Lithium. This will allow us to fully integrate GeoCubed within Cornish Lithium and benefit from the engineering expertise of its team across our portfolio of projects. Importantly, all ten jobs that were created during the project will be retained in Cornwall.”
DLE pilot plant testing
Primarily, the pilot plant will test GeoLith SAS’s Li-Capt® DLE technology and process the 140 metres of deep geothermal water that was successfully obtained during GEL’s testing at its own United Downs site last year. This is expected to confirm that lithium can be produced in Cornwall from geothermal waters, and the pilot plant is expected to provide sufficient information to enable the design of a commercial lithium plant in the County.
The company intend to, test different DLE technologies during 2022, utilising the pilot plant, with a view to establishing the preferred technology for future DLE plants in Cornwall. The pilot plant has been designed to be as flexible as possible and has been constructed in standard 6.1 metre (20ft) containers, enabling relocation to different sites to test new boreholes if required.
Acquisition of GeoCubed Minority Interest
Cornish Lithium has reached an agreement with Geothermal Engineering Limited (“GEL”) to acquire its 10% shareholding in GeoCubed. After the completion of this transaction, GeoCubed will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Cornish Lithium.
Minister for Levelling Up, Neil O’Brien, said: “The delivery of the UK’s first direct lithium extraction plant is an incredible example of innovation at its finest and a proud moment for the people of Cornwall. Backed by nearly £3m of government funding, the direct lithium extraction plant will contribute towards the UK’s Net Zero target and is excellent proof of levelling up in action”.
“This pilot plant could be a foundation for a new hi-tech battery metals industry in Cornwall, creating a secure, sustainable supply for battery and electric vehicle manufacturing in the UK, with the potential to support thousands of jobs,” concluded Mark Duddridge, Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP. “The LEP is delighted to have backed this project with £2.9m of Getting Building Fund investment and we hope it will pave the way for a commercial scale plant.”