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14 Nov 2022

UK Government announces the country’s first large-scale lithium refinery

UK Government announces the country’s first large-scale lithium refinery
Image Source: © Green Lithium Refining Ltd

The UK Government has revealed that it will develop the first-ever, large-scale merchant lithium refinery in the country, a significant boost for the UK’s critical minerals supply.

Grant Shapps, the UK Business Secretary, travelled to Teesport in Middlesbrough, the new site merchant lithium refinery, to announce the development plans. The groundbreaking refinery will be developed by Green Lithium, creating over 1,000 jobs and ensuring the UK’s supply of battery-grade materials for electric vehicles, renewable energy and consumer technologies.


Safeguarding the UK’s critical minerals supply

Lithium is an essential ingredient of batteries, and a secure supply will be vital for the UK’s automotive and energy industries. Moreover, critical minerals are also fundamental in a range of critical technologies, including mobile phones, wind turbines, and fighter jets.

Critical minerals are at significant risk of supply disruption due to volatile markets and complex supply chains, with the demand for critical minerals forecasted to quadruple globally by 2024. As a result, the UK needs to secure its critical minerals supply rapidly. Currently, 89% of the world’s lithium processing currently takes place in East Asia, with there being no lithium refineries in Europe.


Unveiling the UK’s first merchant lithium refinery

The new large-scale lithium refinery represents a significant boost for levelling up the UK and making the country a prime location worldwide for business. The refinery will create more than 1,000 jobs in construction and 250 long-term high-skill jobs for local people once up and running. The UK Government has provided substantial funding for the project, granting Green Lithium over £600,000 through the Automotive Transformation Fund.

Grant Shapps commented: “We’re backing companies, like Green Lithium here in Teesside, to grow the new, green industries across the UK, sparking jobs and growth for decades to come. This is levelling up in action. The refinery will deliver more than 1,000 jobs during its construction and 250 long-term, high-skill jobs for local people when in operation.

“It is also allowing us to move quickly to secure our supply chains of critical minerals, as we know that geopolitical threats and global events beyond our control can severely impact the supply of key components that could delay the rollout of electric vehicles in the UK.”

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