Britain looks to ancient mines for electric future

Posted: April 27, 2018 by oldbrew in government, News
Tags: ,

Cornish tin mine [image credit: IB Times]

Back to the future?
H/T Yahoo News

Britain is banking on a series of ancient mines on its southwestern tip to secure a slice of the global electric car revolution, reports Reuters.

Now however a rise in demand for tin, along with other metals that can be used in electric vehicles, electronics and renewable energy, has helped create a global deficit and quadruple prices.

British officials are supporting reopening of the mines and seeking investment, leading to a mini-rush of mining companies into the area.

Adding to the potential, new research shows the extent to which mines also contain deposits of lithium, the so-called metal of the future.

The first industrial metals mining in Britain for decades represents the country’s best shot at securing a piece of the supply chain for car batteries as well as renewable energy grid connections, officials told Reuters.

“We need to ensure the secure supply of the technology metals and critical minerals,” said government lawmaker Pauline Latham, who heads a parliamentary mining group. “This is necessary with China owning the majority of the market and the potential of a global trade war between China and America.”

It is however early days for the mining projects and there is no guarantee they will produce commercial volumes of metal. Even if they do, Britain is dwarfed by the likes of China, Chile and Australia in terms of battery resources.

The unlikely British mining revival is one example of how countries around the world are scrambling to grab a piece of the electric vehicle action, an area dominated by China, by far the biggest producer of battery metals.

Germany, for instance, is looking to produce lithium at the Zinnwald project in Southern Saxony to help secure supplies for its car industry. In Finland, a nickel mine in Sotkamo in the north aims to start producing material for electric vehicles by 2020, while battery-grade lithium production is planned in Kaustinen, to the west, in 2020.

Serbia, meanwhile, is looking to Rio Tinto to develop a giant mine for jadarite, a newly discovered mineral that contains both boron and lithium, in the west of the country.

Governments, keen to develop future-proof industrial strategies, are seeking to establish their own sources of minerals needed for electrification and electric vehicles to provide supply certainty, as well as revenue and jobs.

The British drive has become more pressing, officials said, because of the country’s upcoming exit from the European Union, the world’s biggest trading bloc.

Continued here.

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    The same old song of “Shortage!” be it “get rich quick!” or “panic now!”.

    There is NO material that does not have a substitute.

    For lithium it is the related period one metals of sodium and potassium. Yes, Virginia, there are batteries very much like lithium cells that use potassium or sodium instead.

    Similarly, the panic over cobalt (used in some kinds of lithium batteries) ignores that titanium is better in some ways in car batteries and that at least a 1/2 dozen other lithium cell technologies exist without cobalt.

    Anyone who bets on a single element as being irreplaceable if a fool.

  2. Grumpy old Dave says:

    The article is wrong on two counts. First, a tungsten mine opened in Devon in 2015,

    Second, the whole of the old mineral bearing area in Cornwall is part of the World Heritage Site and UNESCO will block any re-opening of the mines, just as they did in 2012 when there was an attempt to reopen South Crofty near Camborne.

    They would rather that Cornwall was a theme park than an industrial area, which is what its heritage is truly about.