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Cornish Lithium has started drilling in efforts to source Lithium from geothermal brine

Exploration drilling for Lithium commencing in Cornwall, UK (source: Cornwish Lithium)
Alexander Richter 25 Nov 2019

Cornishl Lithium has commenced drilling of two research wells in Cornwall/ UK to explore lithium contained within naturally-occurring underground geothermal brine.

Already announced earlier this month, mineral extraction company Cornish Lithium reports that it has commenced drilling two research holes in the Gwennap area, Cornwall.  Cornish Lithium is exploring across Cornwall for lithium contained within naturally-occurring underground ‘hot springs’, with the aim of creating a new high-tech, environmentally responsible mining industry in the region.

The Cornwall-based company will drill two research boreholes with the permission of local landowners and those who own the mineral rights below. The precise location of these boreholes was determined following three years of extensive research and digital modelling of the subsurface by Cornish Lithium’s team of geoscientists, based in Penryn.

Lithium is a vital component of lithium-ion batteries, such as those that are used in electric vehicles and mobile ‘phones, and demand for this metal of the future is rapidly rising as we move away from our reliance on fossil fuels. In fact, lithium has been described by Volkswagen as “The Irreplaceable Element of the Electric Era.”

Records from Cornwall’s 19th century heyday as a producer of tin and copper show that lithium was encountered in hot springs, which were intercepted as the mines got deeper. These ‘geothermal’ waters are now understood to circulate through natural permeable structures which act as pathways through the otherwise impermeable rock.

The extensive mining for tin and copper that took place in Gwennap Parish in centuries past has yielded a wealth of information that indicates that lithium is present in geothermal waters deep beneath historic mine workings at United Downs. Cornish Lithium is drilling to intercept these natural features well below the depths reached during historic mining operations and is not targeting water in the old mines themselves.

This research drill programme is taking place as a result of Cornish Lithium’s recent successful crowdfund, through which the Company raised £1.4m and welcomed in excess of 1200 new local and national investors, who share Cornish Lithium’s vision for the environmentally-responsible extraction of battery metals in Cornwall.

“Our research boreholes will be approximately 1000m deep and 12cm in diameter, and intercept permeable geological structures well below known historic mine workings,” explains Cornish Lithium’s Drilling Manager, Mike Round. “Our geologists will take samples of geothermal waters from these permeable structures to measure the amount of lithium that they contain.”

Drilling will be undertaken by a specialist contractor who has successfully carried out similar programmes across the UK and Europe, utilising a tried-and-tested, low-impact technique.

“The drill rig is about the size of a large transit van and working hours and noise levels are being controlled in accordance with the requirements of Cornwall Council to minimise the impact of our exploration on local residents,” adds Mike Round.

“Our findings will guide Cornish Lithium’s future exploration programme, the aim of which is to assess the possibility and commercial viability of extracting lithium from geothermal waters in Cornwall. Positive results could lead to the development of a new industry in Cornwall, focused on battery metals, which could be of huge importance to British industry and Cornwall’s future prosperity.”

Source: Company release