Lithium fever gas arrived in Cornwall, a previously economic powerhouse in southwest England known for its bustling mining industry. Now, its new generation is raring for the county to make a comeback, through lithium. It is a metal that is transformed into batteries that power modern electronic devices, from smartphones to laptops, and electric vehicles.
As the world embraces green technology, lithium batteries are increasingly relied upon to power electric vehicles in the fight against climate change.
But is Cornwall going to benefit from such a lithium rush?
Indeed, the potential reopening of the mining industry in Cornwall would mean an economic boom. It would translate to more income for people living in a county considered to be England’s most impoverished.
Yet, despite the excitement that a potential lithium rush is generating, uncertainty looms. The most concerning aspect of this development is the tradeoffs to the environment. While it will bring back jobs, will the environment suffer as a result?
Undeniably, there is a significant deposit of lithium discovered in the area. Cornish Lithium concluded that the presence of the metal in the area under Redruth could potentially generate hundreds of jobs. It has begun lithium drilling near St. Austell and aims to start lithium production by 2026. The total output is expected to be 10,000 tonnes of lithium extracted yearly, or 12.5% of what the UK needs by 2030.
However, Cornish Lithium isn’t the only one in the game. It faces competition from its rival company British Lithium, which has also started digging from an open pit in St. Austell.
Some residents are suspicious of this possible lithium rush, claiming that these companies are out there for themselves. Loveday Jenkin, of the Cornwall Council, on the other hand, is an optimist, welcoming the prospect of jobs for residents and restoring the proud tradition of skilled engineering in Cornwall.