Canada's Strongbow's UK partner to explore for lithium in Cornwall

Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:30am EST
 
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By Barbara Lewis and Peter Hobson

LONDON (Reuters) - British company Cornish Lithium said on Thursday it had reached a mineral rights agreement with Canada's Strongbow Exploration (SBW.V: Quote) to explore for lithium in Cornwall, southwest England, stoking hopes for a British mining revival.

Cornwall historically was a mining hub for metals such as tin and copper and the British government is keen to resurrect the industry as it seeks to bolster the economy against the shock of leaving the European Union.

Cornish Lithium said new technology offered the potential to extract lithium from underground hot springs and to supply products to the rapidly growing battery market for electric cars and for power storage.

"We believe the potential benefits of developing a lithium industry in Cornwall will be significant for the county and for the UK as a whole," Cornish Lithium CEO Jeremy Wrathall, a mining engineer who graduated from Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall. He also works at Investec bank.

"It will be the largest exploration program ever carried out in Cornwall's history," he told Reuters by telephone.

Wrathall said it would be at least five years before lithium could be produced and he could not yet predict volumes.

Cornish Lithium's next step is to secure funding. It foresees spending 5 million pounds ($6.16 million) in the exploration phase.

The British government, which is also anxious to maintain a car industry in Britain, has defined lithium, most of which comes from South America, Australia and China, as a metal of strategic importance.   Continued...