Cornwall could hold the keys to a new £54 billion lithium revolution and 2017 was the year drilling for ‘white petroleum’ got under way and now one of the best known aristocratic estates in the county is joining the lithium rush.
Experts believe the precious metal, which is used in batteries, could replace fossil fuels in cars.
Private company Cornish Lithium, founded by Camborne School of Mines graduate Jeremy Wrathall, announced earlier this year it was to begin prospecting for the rare metal.
It has now been revealed that lithium has been found in the ground of the ancient Tregothnan Estate, better known these days for growing the only truly English tea in Britain.
Jeremy Wrathall, CEO of Cornish Lithium has signed a deal with Tregothnan Estates to start lithium exploration under the estate outside Truro
Mr Wrathall said lithium was nothing new as it was first discovered in Cornwall in the late 19th century, but its commercial value is such nowadays, with the increased demand for electric cars batteries, that is commercial viable to exploit.
He told Cornwall Live: “We don’t want to get our hopes up but if all goes well we could have our first test drilling at Tregothnan by this time next year and again if all goes well, exploitation in the next five years. That’s how long it takes.”
Cornish Lithium and Tregothnan Estates have now signed an exploration deal for the rare earth mineral which could see Tregothnan Estates’ rich history of mining be revived once more.
Mr Wrathall, CEO of Cornish Lithium, added: “While our current focus remains on lithium, this agreement means that if we discover other minerals, these too can be commercially developed across Tregothnan Estates’ land and mineral rights which have historically been proven to contain significant mineral deposits.
“This is hugely exciting and we look forward to continuing to work with the team at Tregothnan as we progress our exploration efforts.”
Mr Wrathall said there might be tin, tungsten, copper and cobalt in the ground too, which will only be revealed by test drillings.
He added: “Lithium is an essential ingredient in electric car batteries. All the big car manufacturers are after it that’s why it’s so essential. And as China has cornered 75% of the global market for lithium, European countries need to secure other supplies that’s why this site and others in Cornwall have such great potential.”
If and when exploitation gets under way at the Tregothnan site, there is potential to create between 30 and 40 jobs at a high tech plant.
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Tregothnan Estate has a rich history of mining successes spanning centuries with tin, copper and china clay being supplied from its mineral deposits in Cornwall to markets all over the world.
The discovery of lithium under Tregothnan Estate land is part of the rush for the precious metal making Cornwall the UK’s prime location for deposits.
Bella Percy-Hughes, a staff member at Tregothnan near Truro, Cornwall, which began supplying England’s first and only tea in 2005, checks on tea plants on the estates tea plantation. (Image: Ben Birchall / PA Wire)
Simon Gregory, a partner at Foot Anstey, which advised on the arrangement, said: “Cornwall is the only current known source in the UK for lithium and both Cornish Lithium and Tregothnan are making exciting plans.
“Developments such as these are key for the Cornish economy and will play an exciting role in the county’s future.”
Under the terms of the agreement signed between Cornish Lithium and Tregothnan Estates the mining firm is allowed to explore for, and to commercially develop, lithium contained in hot spring brines on the land and mineral rights owned by Tregothnan on the outskirts of Truro.
The deal means Cornish Lithium will also have the rights to commercially develop other minerals discovered in the exploration process on the land and mineral rights owned by Tregothnan Estates, and that could include tin or another precious metal tungsten, copper or even gold should any be found.
Cornish Lithium and Tregothnan Estates have signed a deal to exploit any lithium found in the ground underneath the estate outside Truro – L to R: Darran Goldby (Tregothnan), Simon Gregory (Foot Anstey), A Boscawen, Hon EAH Boscawen, Jeremy Wrathall (Cornish Lithium), Derek Linfield (Cornish Lithium), Andrew Jarvis (Tregothnan)
Andrew Jarvis , director of Tregothnan Estate, said the deal was a first for the ancient aristocratic estate owned by the Boscawen family, Viscounts Falmouth.
Tregothnan is a living and working private Cornish estate, with a rich history dating back to 1334. The name ‘Tregothnan’ literally means ‘The House at the Head of the Valley’ and is still a private family home today. In 2005, Tregothnan began supplying Britain’s first home-grown tea.
Mr Jarvis added: “This is a historic deal, the likes of which we have never entered before. We are delighted to be supporting Cornish Lithium in their quest to bring Lithium production to the UK.
“Equally exciting is the prospect of finding other minerals and metals, which may well be discovered during the exploration process.
” We will be providing Cornish Lithium with unique access to a comprehensive set of mining archives compiled over centuries of mining activity which will give them an unprecedented advantage in locating the best mineralised sites.”
Source: Cornwall Live