Elon Musk building world’s largest lithium ion battery plant

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Teague Egan, CEO of EnergyX, suggested the topic of lithium mining would undoubtedly have cropped up at the crunch environmental summit, given its importance to electric vehicles as the world pivots away from fossil fuels. Lithium, a rare-earth element, has multiple practical applications – with large deposits existing in the West Country.

The global lithium market was estimated to be worth an eye-watering £2.5billion in 2020, according to Statista, which forecast its value to sky-rocket to £3.6billion by 2027.

Mr Egan, whose US-based company is developing cutting-edge technology to disrupt the lithium industry and provide a more sustainable source of the mineral, told Express.co.uk: “The biggest lithium deposits in the world are found across Latin America and Australia.

“The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is home to some of the largest reserves in the world.

“However, in terms of lithium supply and production, China is currently dominating this market significantly and courting those countries with the biggest supplies.”

He added: “Record levels of lithium were reported to be found in Cornwall earlier this year in geothermal waters (260mg/L).”

While the find is on a much smaller scale than the deposits in Latin America and Australia, it could still play a significant part in the UK’s EV revolution, which is needed in order to lower emissions.

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Mr Egan said: “It would allow the UK to be able to rely on its own supply of lithium and depend less on complex global geopolitics.”

With respect to the Glasgow summit, at which world leaders have been trying to hammer out an agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050, Mr Egan stressed: “Lithium is a critical component in enabling the clean energy transition and is vital to advancing the production of Electric Vehicles.

“It really is key to fighting the climate crisis – but it is not being given enough attention at COP. It is the missing piece in the puzzle.”

He said: “Joe Biden’s climate agenda is currently hanging in the balance as his climate policy has not yet been passed through Congress.

“Biden has already made it clear that EVs and clean energy projects are at the forefront of his climate agenda and this bill promises millions of dollars in investment to fund this.

“It would be fair to say that Biden may look to the UK for its national consumption strategies, but is looking at securing its own lithium supplies domestically and with many other countries.”

In remarks aimed at Mr Sunak, who told the conference he would make Britain the world’s first “net-zero financial centre”, Mr Egan said: “The sources found in Cornwall sound promising for Britain and would definitely have the potential to push the UK ahead in meeting its 2050 carbon neutral targets, as well as boosting the economy.

“The Government has strongly supported lithium production as well with a share of the £9.4million investment into battery technology.

“This investment highlights the growing awareness of lithium as critical to fighting climate change but there is a long way for the UK to go to catch up with the R&D in China.”

Speaking to Express.co.uk in August, founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium Ltd, likewise claimed the rich seam of the alkali metal could further Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit Global Britain ambitions.

He said: “Cornwall has the potential to host a large source of lithium, critical for the development of the UK’s green economy.

“This comes at a time when Britain seeks to be a world leader in electric vehicles and the energy transition and it is therefore vital that we seek to develop a secure, domestic source of lithium, in a low carbon and environmentally responsible manner.”

Mr Wrathall added: “We have made strong progress at our lithium brine testing facility at United Downs in Cornwall.

“Our work shows that Cornwall hosts globally significant lithium grades and we are currently building a lithium extraction pilot plant, which is being part-funded by the UK Government’s Getting Building Fund.”

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