Cornwall’s mining revival received a boost on Monday after the firm behind plans to tap into huge reserves of lithium in the county raised £1 million in funding.
Mining company Cornish Lithium, headed up by Jeremy Wrathall, said the cash injection will allow it to explore the coastal region as the demand for the precious metal soars.
Lithium – dubbed “white petroleum” – is used in the rapidly growing market for electric cars and rechargeable batteries in everything from mobile phones to cordless vacuums.
It is estimated that the global market for lithium stands at a potential £70 billion.
Cornish Lithium said: “The funds raised will enable the company to commence exploration activities on the ground in Cornwall.
“The initial focus will be to collate all relevant data on lithium occurrences in Cornwall and to assemble this in digital format.
“The company intends to integrate surface and underground data in order to prioritise the best locations for subsequent drilling and sampling.”
Mr Wrathall, 53, who owns Cornish Lithium with his wife, is hoping to raise £5 million to fund exploration tests, with around four or five well drills expected to be set up, which covers a large area centred around Camborne, Redruth and St Day in Cornwall.
The incoming shareholders include Keith Liddell, the former chief executive of Aquarius Platinum and investment house Mineral Securities.
Chris von Christierson, director at Southern Prospecting, and natural resources investor Peter Smedvig also join the shareholder register.
Mr Liddell said: “Given the extensive historic readings of lithium in geothermal brines as well as the recent advances in technology, we see a real potential for lithium production in Cornwall.
“Combined with the global shift in focus towards electric vehicles and battery energy storage we believe that Cornish Lithium could potentially become a very significant player in the lithium industry in the UK and Europe.”
If successful in extracting lithium from hot spring brines in granite, it would make the county the UK and Europe’s only major source of the valuable metal.
The firm announced earlier this year that it had secured a mineral rights agreement with Canada’s Strongbow Exploration and Mineral Exploration and has also reached agreement with significant landowner Tregothnan Estates to carry out exploration across Cornwall.
Most lithium is produced in South America, Australia and China, but the UK Government has earmarked lithium as a metal of strategic importance to the country.