The company opened up to pre-registered investors on 12 October, and had almost doubled its target after three hours before opening on Crowdcube on the morning of 13 October. At the time of writing, 2,176 investors had collectively invested £3.8m.
The fundraising has exceeded the company’s expectations, with Cornish Lithium tweeting: “After busy day [sic] of support from previous investors and those who pre registered, our crowdfund will be live to all tomorrow at 9am… We suggest being ready if interested in investing as we will be closing the round sooner than expected.”
“Globally significant” lithium grades
This new rush of investors follows Cornish Lithium’s announcement in September that it had found “globally significant” lithium grades in deep geothermal waters at the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project near Redruth, Cornwall, UK.
Results from exploration at the site indicated some of the world’s highest grades of lithium, and the best overall chemical qualities for geothermal waters encountered anywhere in the world. Cornish Lithium found average lithium concentrations of 220 milligrams per litre (mg/L) with some concentrations up to 260mg/L. The company also noted the potential for additional by-products, including boron, rubidium, and caesium.
At the time of that announcement, Cornish Lithium founder and CEO Jeremy Wrathall said: “This is an exciting step towards the realisation of low-carbon lithium extraction from geothermal waters in Cornwall, and compliments Cornish Lithium’s work to date on exploring for lithium contained within shallower geothermal waters in the county.”
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Cornish Lithium aims to extract lithium directly from Cornwall’s geothermal waters – a project that has excited investors for its innovative, economical, and less environmentally intensive method of lithium extraction. The company plans to use direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies, which extract dissolved lithium compounds from water without the need for large evaporation ponds like those typically seen in South American lithium operations.
Bringing life to an old mining area
Cornish Lithium is a company that has received a fair bit of attention since its founding in 2016. Earlier this year, it became one of the British energy projects to receive significant investment from the UK Government as part of its “Getting Britain Building” fund, a funding package aimed at stimulating housebuilding and infrastructure projects as part of the country’s post-coronavirus economic recovery. Cornish Lithium’s potential for success chimes with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s desire to promote digital innovation in UK industry.
The company was founded to use modern exploration techniques and digital technology to re-evaluate Cornwall’s mineral potential in light of the battery revolution. Cornwall had a history as a successful mining region in the past, but the industry has been relatively dormant for decades.
Cornish Lithium is exploring for lithium contained within naturally occurring underground hot springs – geothermal waters – and it could pave the way for a revitalised, environmentally responsible mining industry in Cornwall.
Cornish Lithium cites forecasts for global lithium demand to reach 785,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) by 2025, up from 217,000 tonnes LCE in 2017. The question of how lithium producers meet that increasing demand – driven largely by the rise of electric vehicles – has prompted a rise in exploration for lithium deposits globally. Cornish Lithium believes that Cornwall is home to a significant quantity of lithium in geothermal brines, which could help satisfy some of that demand.