A senior geologist, a metallurgist and a principal engineer have started work with the British Lithium Limited (BLL) team in Cornwall.
Dr Robert Gruar, Dr Klass Peter Van Der Wielen and Robin Kelly are all experts in their respective fields – adding considerable depth of experience to an operation that is now moving at pace from successful research and analysis towards pilot plant development over the next few months.
Robert Gruar joins BLL from Dyson in Malmesbury, where he was principal engineer. An experienced scientist and technology programme manager, he was a visiting academic at Oxford University before moving on to Dyson and spending four years researching and developing battery-related projects there.
Robin Kelly has been working as chief geologist in Nigeria, where he was responsible for implementing and managing an exploration programme that required rapid resource drilling to discover new deposits and bring the mine back into operation. His career has taken him all over the world since completing his MSc in Mining Geology at Camborne School of Mines in 2010.
Klaas Peter Van Der Wielen is a senior metallurgist who studied for his doctorate in minerals engineering at Camborne School of Mines from 2009-2012. His career to date has included working with Wolf Minerals at Drakelands tin and tungsten mine near Plymouth and, latterly, with Grinding Solutions – a mineral processing consultancy based in Cornwall.
“This is a key trio of appointments for us as we progress towards becoming the first company in the UK to extract lithium carbonate from hard rock,” said BLL’s CEO Andrew Smith, a highly experienced mining engineer who previously ran a large international mining team for the Cinovec lithium project in the Czech Republic. “We are currently shipping specialist equipment from Australia to build a pilot plant that should be operational by next Easter. We’ll then consult with local stakeholders with a view to constructing a quarry and processing plant and starting full production in three to five years’ time.”
BLL’s initial drilling programme in the St Austell area began in April 2019. Trenching work followed in September that year to establish the continuity of the discovered ore body over several kilometres and deeper holes were subsequently drilled in December to assess the depth of the find. The results were reported and an official JORC (Joint Ore Reserves Committee) Mineral Resource Estimate declared. A second round of exploration drilling will take place in the next few months, with analysis undertaken on site in the Roche metallurgical laboratory.
For more information, visit www.britishlithium.co.uk
British Lithium Ltd (BLL) has appointed John Walker as Strategic Advisor, effective immediately.
Cornishman John Walker started his career at Imerys in St Austell in 1990. He went on to become general manager of the company’s tableware division in Belgium, before moving to the US and taking charge of Imerys North American Ceramics. In 2011, he joined The Quartz Corp (TQC) and led the implementation of a significant expansion of the company’s production capacity and was subsequently appointed as CEO. TQC is a joint venture between Imerys and Norsk Mineral that supplies high-purity quartz to the solar, semiconductor and optical markets. Over six years in that role, John oversaw TQC’s development from new entrant to a global market leader.
John will draw on his wealth of experience to assist BLL as the company moves towards production, which also includes his role as Chairman of Exawatt, a provider of strategic consulting and research in the battery, power electronics, electric vehicle and solar photovoltaic (PV) industries.
“We’re delighted to welcome John to our team,” said BLL Chief Executive Andrew Smith. “He has enormous expertise in our sector, knows Cornwall well and has the knowledge and contacts we need to help BLL progress from meticulous analysis and economic feasibility to operational status within the next three years.”
As the first company in the UK to explore for hard rock lithium and the only one so far to have established a resource, Roche-based BLL was recently awarded a £500,000 Innovate UK Smart Grant from the Government.
“I’m delighted to be working with BLL at such a milestone moment in their development,” said John. “Over the last three years, BLL has been quietly getting on with the job of testing a unique process for extracting lithium from micaceous granite. There is no battery-grade lithium production anywhere in Europe and the advantages of establishing an operation capable of producing 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate in Cornwall are huge – not just for the local community but for the whole of the UK. That’s why BLL’s plans are attracting so much investment interest at national and international level and why I’m passionate about being involved in what I regard as an unfolding story of technological and metallurgical success.”
Lithium is a highly reactive and relatively light metal that is ideal for use in batteries – including those that power electric cars. Whilst 2020 has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of petrol and diesel cars sold, sales of zero-emission vehicles increased by nearly 160 per cent. Cars represent the UK’s largest export by value and car manufacturers co-locate with battery makers. A number of large lithium-ion battery plants are already under construction in Europe, with two gigafactories being proposed for the UK.
For more information about BLL, visit www.britishlithium.co.uk
Cornish Metals Inc. is pleased to report the second set of results from its diamond drilling programme at the South Crofty Mine, Cornwall, UK.
A summary of results received to date from SDD20-001 are tabulated below:
|Hole ID||Lode Name||From|
|True Width (m)||Grade|
|Sn Eq %*|
Additional lode structures with visible tin mineralisation have been intersected deeper in hole SDD20-001, the results for which will be released as assays are received and tabulated.
Richard Williams, CEO, stated “The Intermediate Lode structure was predicted by our geological team to be in this area but such a high-grade intersection so far beneath the old mine workings was not anticipated, it does reinforce the exploration potential at South Crofty and our ability to find economic structures within areas of the mine that have been previously overlooked.”
The historic South Crofty mine was a high-grade copper producer from the late 16th century up until the mid-19th century, when it transitioned to being a high-grade tin producer, with more than 100,000 tonnes of tin metal produced between 1906 and 1998. The project benefits from an active 50 year mine permit, planning permission to build new surface processing facilities, environmental permits to dewater the mine, and very strong local and national support to see the mine reopened.
Cornish Lithium Ltd. (‘Cornish Lithium’ or ‘the Company’), an innovative mineral exploration company exploring for lithium and other battery metals in the South West of the UK, is pleased to announce results from preliminary sampling of lithium in deep geothermal waters at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project near Redruth, Cornwall.
Initial results indicate some of the world’s highest grades of lithium and best overall chemical qualities encountered in published records for geothermal waters anywhere in the world. Geothermal waters which contain lithium are very different from other occurrences of lithium in brine given that the same water can be used to generate zero-carbon electrical power and heat. As such these waters are rapidly becoming recognised as the ultimate ethical source of lithium.
Highlights of the sampling include:
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO & Founder of Cornish Lithium, said: “This is an exciting step towards the realisation of low-carbon lithium extraction from geothermal waters in Cornwall, and compliments Cornish Lithium’s work to date on exploring for lithium contained within shallower geothermal waters in the County.
“The pilot lithium extraction plant, part funded by the UK Government, that we will develop with Geothermal Engineering Ltd. at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project will allow us to evaluate green Direct Lithium Extraction technologies which will bring us another step closer to commercial production of lithium in Cornwall.”
“We now have increased confidence that these lithium-enriched geothermal waters can be found at depth across Cornwall and believe that there is significant potential to replicate combined lithium and geothermal extraction plants in different locations across the County where Cornish Lithium has mineral rights agreements in place.”
The Company, in collaboration with Geothermal Engineering Ltd. (‘GEL’), the developer of the United Downs Geothermal Power Project, was recently awarded funding from the UK Government’s ‘Getting Building Fund’ to build a pilot lithium extraction plant at the United Downs site. The £4 million project will design, procure, and build a pilot plant to trial Direct Lithium Extraction (‘DLE’) technology to extract lithium from the geothermal waters which circulate naturally at depth in the granite rock that underlies Cornwall.
The initial assay results show lithium concentrations of up to 260 mg/L, which are believed to be amongst the highest published grades of lithium in geothermal waters globally. Importantly the Total Dissolved Solids (‘TDS’) content of these Cornish waters is exceptionally low relative to other geothermal waters worldwide, making Cornish waters globally significant. In particular magnesium, a metal that makes processing more difficult and expensive, is extremely low at a concentration of only 5mg/L.
The graph below illustrates the results in a global context and shows lithium levels relative to TDS for various types of lithium rich waters and brines, such as salar brines from the Atacama Desert, oilfield brines and other geothermal waters. Whilst salar brines are often much higher grade, they are difficult to process due to the presence high levels of magnesium and other deleterious elements. Access to power in these remote locations also makes DLE challenging, or impossible.
These results are considered highly encouraging given current developments in lithium extraction using DLE technologies. Additional testing is planned over coming weeks. DLE technology extracts dissolved lithium compounds from the water without the need for the large evaporation ponds that are used in the arid regions of South America. DLE technology uses ionic adsorbents and/or ion exchange membranes, with the residual water being returned to depth via a borehole.
Using DLE technology the Company aims to maximise product recovery from the geothermal waters in a small footprint, energy efficient extraction plant which will be powered by an on-site geothermal power plant. The pilot plant at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project will allow detailed evaluation of potential processing methodologies and accelerate efforts towards commercial production of lithium.
Low-carbon lithium extraction from geothermal waters should make this a very compelling supply of lithium for automotive manufactures seeking low carbon supply chains of battery metals.
Jeremy Wrathall added, “These results show that Cornish deep geothermal waters, unlike others around the world, have low salinity, meaning much lower concentrations of elements such as magnesium and sodium. When these elements are present in high concentrations it can make it difficult and more expensive to separate out the lithium compounds. Cornish geothermal waters should therefore be highly suitable for extraction methods using DLE technology.”
The results from the United Downs Geothermal Power Project demonstrate that this geothermal system has realistic potential to produce economic grades of lithium and, potentially, additional by-products. Given the importance of these results to Cornish Lithium’s overall exploration programme across Cornwall and to the Company’s investors, the Company assayed the samples at two separate independent laboratories to confirm the grades.
Importantly, the results from the United Downs Geothermal Power Project verify the accuracy of historic samples identified by Cornish Lithium in other locations across Cornwall. The maximum recorded lithium content in these samples was 227 mg/L (Edmunds et al., 1988), which occurred at a depth of only 635 m below sea level. It is therefore possible that high grade geothermal waters can be accessed using shallow drilling techniques.
Next steps include further sampling of the deep geothermal waters when GEL commences its next phase of test work at the United Downs site in October this year, with further tests expected to provide additional observations regarding the origins and context of these deeper geothermal waters. The information from additional bulk samples will then be used to inform the design and technology for the pilot DLE plant.
Rob Bowell, SRK Consulting, said: “The lithium grades reported from the deep geothermal waters at United Downs are globally significant. Coupled with the low salinity of the waters, they should be highly amenable to lithium extraction using cutting-edge DLE technology. This is a fantastic opportunity for Cornwall to lead the charge on environmentally-responsible extraction of this critical raw material in Europe and beyond.”
Dr Rob Bowell CChem CGeol EGeol, is the Qualified Person for Cornish Lithium’s geothermal water projects and defined as a competent person for reporting purposes for JORC and NI 43-101. Dr Bowell has been extensively involved in development, design and review of lithium and salt extraction projects in South America, Mexico, Nevada, Tibet, Africa, India and Europe and has over 30 years of experience. Currently he is Corporate Consultant with SRK Consulting (UK) Limited. Cornish Lithium is currently preparing for a new fundraising via Crowdcube. If you’d like to preregister your interest in participating, you can do so at www.cornishlithium.com.
Strongbow Exploration Inc. is pleased to report the discovery of a new zone of high grade copper-tin mineralisation located between the historic United Mine and Consolidated Mines at Strongbow’s United Downs exploration project, Cornwall UK. The discovery was made in drill hole GWDD-002, drilled by Cornish Lithium. Cornish Lithium has the right to explore Strongbow’s mineral rights in Cornwall for lithium in brine occurrences while Strongbow retains the rights to any hard rock mineralisation.
Strongbow completed the acquisition of the South Crofty tin project plus additional mineral rights located in Cornwall, UK, in July 2016 (see Company news release dated July 12, 2016). The additional mineral rights cover an area of approximately 15,000 hectares and are scattered throughout Cornwall. Some of these mineral rights cover old mines that were historically worked for copper, tin, zinc, and tungsten.
In January 2017, the Company announced that it had entered into an agreement with Cornish Lithium, a private exploration company, whereby Cornish Lithium was granted the right to explore Strongbow’s mineral rights in Cornwall for lithium in brine occurrences (see Company news release dated January 19, 2017).
In 2019 Cornish Lithium provided notice of its intention to conduct diamond drill testing for lithium in brine on Strongbow’s United Downs mineral rights. United Downs is located approximately 8km east of South Crofty and lies within a densely mined district, historically referred to as Gwennap (see location Map 1 below). Two diamond drill holes have been completed, for a total length of 1,858m. See Map 2, which shows the collar locations of these two diamond drill holes. Results from part of diamond drill hole GWDD-002 are reported herein. The Company is in the process of logging and sampling the remaining drill core from both GWDD-001 and GWDD-002, and is applying for a drill permit to drill test the strike extension of the lode structure intersected in GWDD-002.
The United Downs project covers, or is located immediately adjacent to, four former copper and tin producing mines: Consolidated Mines and United Mines to the west; and, Mount Wellington and Wheal Jane Mines to the east – see Map 2. The main mineralised structures in all four mines trend ENE and dip steeply to the north. All of the mineralisation exploited historically is related to either quartz veins or quartz-tourmaline veins hosted within “killas”, the local name for metasedimentary rocks that overlie granite intrusions.
At the nearby South Crofty Mine, copper-tin-zinc-tungsten mineralisation hosted within the killas passes into tin mineralisation at depth as the mineralised vein-like structures pass into the underlying granitic host rock. The same zonation potentially exists at United Downs, where only the killas-hosted mineralisation has been exploited to date. The underlying granite, which is a target for further tin mineralisation, was encountered in GWDD-002 between 300 and 600m and again at 700m vertical depth.
The nearby Wheal Jane mine was discovered and developed into a modern mine in the late 1960s, initially by Consolidated Goldfields, and thereafter by Rio Tinto Zinc. Mining activities at Wheal Jane ceased in early 1991, due largely to the Tin Crisis of 1985, but processing of South Crofty ore continued until March 1998 when ongoing low tin prices forced its eventual closure.
As part of the intense exploration period that Cornwall enjoyed between the 1960s and 1985, an underground exploration drive was developed during the 1980s westwards from Wheal Jane through Mount Wellington mine at 6 level elevation, whilst an exploration decline (the Wheal Maid decline) was developed to explore for tin mineralisation similar in style to that which was exploited in Mount Wellington and Wheal Jane mines. This exploration work was stopped after the tin price collapse in 1985, despite the great promise for the discovery of polymetallic mineralisation.
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