PARIS (Reuters) – French minerals group Imerys on Thursday unveiled plans to mine lithium in the UK, a second lithium project for the firm that it expects to make it Europe’s top producer of the metal that is in hot demand for electric vehicle batteries.
Imerys aims to produce around 20,0000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent at its mining domain in Cornwall in southwest England in partnership with British Lithium by the end of the decade.
That would be enough to supply some 500,000 EVs, or two-thirds of the UK’s estimated EV battery demand by 2030, it said.
The project is expected to cost “hundreds of millions” of euros in investment, CEO Alessandro Dazza said on a call with reporters, adding it was too early to give precise figures.
The project was smaller than Imerys’ existing plan to mine lithium in central France, where it aims to reach output of around 34,000 tonnes through a 1 billion euro investment, and Dazza said the UK site would have the advantage of being an open pit mine with a nearby processing facility.
Imerys said UK production could potentially start around the same time as its French output in late 2028, benefitting from synergies between the two projects, he added.
In its UK partnership, Imerys has taken an 80% stake in British Lithium and will draw on the local firm’s processing technology and existing pilot for battery-grade lithium, the French group said.