Confirmation that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) owner Tata will build its flagship electric car battery gigafactory in Somerset is warmly welcomed by Imerys British Lithium (IBL).
Based near St Austell in Cornwall, IBL is a newly formed joint venture company that combines the technology and specialist expertise of British Lithium with the significant resources and global mining stature of Imerys. With an up and running lithium pilot plant in Cornwall and the largest established 161 million tonne Inferred Mineral Resource in the UK, IBL is planning full production by 2028.
Lithium carbonate is an essential component of electric car batteries and, with JLR’s gigafactory announcement following hot on the heels of IBL’s joint venture, the Southwest region looks set to become a key part of the UK’s transition to electric car manufacture by 2030.
“We have commenced a fully-funded feasibility study and are planning a production rate of 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate each year– enough to meet roughly half of the likely requirement of a 40 GWh gigafactory,” said IBL CEO Andrew Smith.
“The proximity of JLR’s new gigfactory in Somerset to our base in one of Cornwall’s mining heartlands is another big milestone in establishing an industry that will help achieve the government’s net zero goals.
“Our technology, based on years of intensive research, has been demonstrated and de-risked by extensive piloting, and we’re well on track to developing a full-scale plant capable of playing a vital role in decarbonising the UK’s economy whilst directly employing up to 350 people.
“Thanks to government support we are seeing the key pieces falling into place and now have both ends of the electrical vehicle supply chain in the Southwest.”
The IBL partnership benefits from Imerys’ existing mining footprint in Cornwall, its experienced teams, solid infrastructure, and the lithium expertise gained through its EMILI project in France.
“JLR’s announcement is important in consolidating the Southwest’s position as a vital player in carbon reduction,” said Mark Hewson, Imerys UK Director and IBL Director.
“Our mine and processing plant will adhere to the highest social and environmental standards and follow the IRMA Standard – the most demanding global benchmark for responsible mining.”