Two highly experienced lithium industry professionals have joined Cornwall-based British Lithium.
Ben Cordier, who formerly led a process development and design team for Johnson Matthey’s Battery Materials business, has been appointed Head of Process Research and Matthew Watson, formerly principal geologist at leading Australian lithium producer Mineral Resources Limited, has been appointed Head of Geology.
Both are key appointments as the company progresses towards full operational status and a production rate likely to meet one third of the UK’s projected lithium carbonate demand.
“It’s rare to have a working pilot plant like British Lithium’s,” said Ben, who did his MSc in Minerals Engineering at Camborne School of Mines before moving on to senior jobs at Rio Tinto’s Jadar boron and lithium project and ultimately at Johnson Matthey on Teesside.
“Testing and developing processes at pilot scale is a vital part of designing the main plant and reducing risk. That’s what appealed to me about making the move to Cornwall with my family to join British Lithium. They are building their business on solid research and painstaking analysis and that, in my experience, is exactly the right approach.
“With its rich mining heritage, Cornwall has the perfect combination of environment, local skills’ supply and community support for a project like this and the future looks very promising.”
Matthew is similarly excited by his new role.
“It was a big decision to move here from Perth with my wife, after 12 years with Mineral Resources and developing two lithium mines in Western Australia – one of which has the largest lithium deposit in the world,” he said.
“We’ve made the leap because the challenge of defining British Lithium’s geological model is irresistibly appealing. The fact that the pilot plant is already producing daily quantities of lithium carbonate from the mica in Cornish granite means the resource is there and I’m looking forward to working closely with Ben, CEO Andrew Smith and the rest of the team as we complete more mapping and drilling.”
The new arrivals have been welcomed by Roderick Smith, Chair of British Lithium and an acknowledged world expert in specialist metals who has been CEO of 5 publicly listed Australian mines.
“Ben and Matt’s unique skills and experience are key as we move towards commercialisation,” he said. “Our pilot plant is already producing 99.9% pure lithium carbonate from Cornish granite and our plans for full-scale sustainable lithium production remain on track.”
Ben and Matt will report to Andrew Smith, British Lithium’s chief executive officer, who conceived the Cornwall lithium project in 2017 after previously running the feasibility study for Cinovec, Europe’s largest lithium deposit.