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Imerys, British Lithium joint venture to develop UK's largest lithium deposit

British Lithium's pilot plant in Cornwall, UK. The world’s first end-to-end lithium pilot plant treating the lithium mica granites that are extensive in Cornwall, beneficiating the mica and producing high-purity, battery-grade lithium carbonate. Source: British Lithium

Imerys S.A. the French multinational company specializing in the production and processing of industrial minerals on Thursday announced that it has acquired an 80% stake in British Lithium, a private company involved in the sustainable extraction of battery-grade lithium from mica granite.

The joint venture aims to create the first integrated producer of battery-grade lithium carbonate in the United Kingdom. The partnership will bring together Imerys' mining expertise, infrastructure in Cornwall, R&D and process development capabilities, as well as its lithium mineral resources, with British Lithium's technology for the sustainable extraction of battery-grade lithium. British Lithium is the first company to have drilled for lithium in the UK and has built a dedicated lithium pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy laboratory in Cornwall.

"This acquisition is a milestone in Imerys' journey to becoming a key partner in the energy transition. Building on our recent investment in the EMILI Project in France, we are uniquely placed to become a leading supplier of lithium in the UK and Europe. We look forward to unlocking the joint potential of British Lithium and Imerys to make Cornwall a successful lithium hub, building on its centuries-old mining heritage," said Alessandro Dazza, CEO of Imerys.

British Lithium has carried out drilling and exploration on Imerys-owned land in Cornwall since 2017 and developed its unique process and lithium pilot plant to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate. According to Imerys, after the drilling and resource definition, inferred mineral resources are estimated at 161 million tonnes at a grade of 0.54 % lithium oxide. 

The transaction has been approved by the UK Government, under the National Security Investment Act protocol. This venture will reduce the UK's and Europe's dependence on critical raw materials imports, thus contributing to the achievement of the European and British climate change targets and the creation of the first fully integrated regional electrical vehicle value chain. 

"After working closely with Imerys for several years, the Directors, shareholders, and staff of British Lithium are delighted to formalize their partnership with Imerys and are confident that this alignment of interests will propel us toward continued rapid progress," said Roderick Smith, Chairman of British Lithium.

"This marks a key milestone for British Lithium, Imerys, and the entire lithium battery industry, as they embark on a journey to establish a sustainable future for lithium production in the United Kingdom." 

Following the strategic partnership, Cornwall is expected to become the leading lithium hub in the UK, with a target annual production of 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent, enough to equip 500,000 electric cars per year, by the end of the decade, meeting roughly two-thirds of Britain's estimated battery demand by 2030.

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