EV Adoption Boost As Lithium Refinery Gets Green Light

by | Nov 26, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

The push to switch Britain’s automotive sector from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles (EVs) has been happening with increasing urgency, but the widespread adoption of such vehicles depends on being able to mass-produce cars and other vehicles at an affordable price.

A key pinch point lies in the supply of lithium, the rare metal from which electric car batteries are made. Hitherto, both the mining of the material and its refining have all been done overseas, with the latter being dominated by China, with all the potential economic and geopolitical leverage that brings.

However, the situation is changing fast and a major landmark development has just been announced as Green Lithium has been granted planning permission to establish the first lithium refinery in the UK. It will be located at the Tees Freeport in Middlesbrough. 

More refining in the UK will mean carmakers can confidently set up gigafatories to produce batteries and car plants to make the vehicles themselves with greater confidence in the reliability of supply. Of course, what is then needed is the establishment of more EV charging stations in Manchester to ensure drivers can power up whenever and wherever they need to. 

Green Lithium is not the only company planning to establish a lithium refining plant in the Tees Port. Tees Valley Lithium has similar plans to use a 20 acre site at the Sembcorp Energy UK site. 

The establishment of refineries is not the only step that can help secure supplies of battery-grade lithium in the UK. Exploration in different parts of the country has led to the discovery of significant quantities of the mineral. This includes an area not far from the Teesport in the upper Wear valley, in brines beneath the Weardale granite.

Weardale Lithium has a prospective deal in place for the lithium it hopes to extract from this source to be supplied to Tees Valley Lithium, ensuring the carbon footprint of transporting the material is a tiny fraction of that currently involved in shipping lithium mined in the southern hemisphere to China.

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