My Cornish tin mining ancestors would have been amazed had they joined me at my recent meeting with Cornish Lithium. Cornish Lithium has partnered with the government backed Satellite Applications Catapult, which has raised £850,000 from government funded Innovate UK to see if it can develop techniques for spotting the metal.
Cornish Lithium hopes to extract lithium from salt water, which it will pump out of the ground from wells as much one kilometre deep. Most lithium is produced in South America, Australia and China, but the UK government has identified lithium as a strategically valuable resource to our country and Cornwall could have important reserves. There are records from the 19th century of lithium being found in Cornish mines but there was no market for it at the time.
Now that lithium has become a crucial material for the development of electric car batteries, the lithium in Cornwall may represent an important resource. Lithium consumption is expected to grow rapidly over the next few decades as electric vehicles become mainstream. Additional demand is expected to come from power storage batteries that will be used to store electrical power harvested from renewable sources such as wind and solar.
The challenge posed by the study is to understand whether satellite techniques can assist in prioritising areas for exploration for the future production of lithium. The British Geological Survey, the Camborne School of Mines, which is part of Exeter University, environmental consultancy North Coast Consulting and Goonhilly are all involved. I hope that this exciting use of satellite technology will develop a new, less intrusive approach to mineral exploration, which can be exported to the mining industry around the world.
This is a good example of the Industrial Strategy in action, investing in all our futures, supporting inclusive growth in high skilled employment in Cornwall.
I also want to update you on my work with the Stadium for Cornwall partnership. As you know, I have always supported the concept of a Stadium for Cornwall as I believe it could enable the Pirates and Truro City to make progress in their respective leagues. As importantly, it could also provide a great facility for community and children’s sport in Cornwall too. I am pleased to have helped enable the current proposal of a shared, single stadium and am pleased it is supported by Truro & Penwith College who could use the proposed new facilities for a range of educational and training purposes. Now that Cornwall Council has worked with the partners to develop an investable business plan that the majority of Cornwall Councillors have voted for, I am working with Derek Thomas MP to secure the £3 million taxpayer funding requested by the Stadium partnership from the Treasury. We have had a number of preliminary meetings. The plans and business case will go through a rigorous process before taxpayer funding is secured and I am pleased that Sports England will be actively involved in this process.
First published in the West Briton 03/05/18