UK’s first large-scale merchant lithium refinery announced

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Green Lithium expects its new refinery to create the missing link and guarantee upstream supply chain security for European EV and battery manufacturers / Picture: Green Lithium.

Today the Business Secretary Grant Shapps is visiting Teesside to announce the UK’s first large-scale merchant lithium refinery, providing battery grade materials for use in the electric vehicle, renewable energy and consumer technology supply chains.

In a boost for Levelling Up and government plans to make the UK the best place in the world to do business, Green Lithium has unveiled Teesport in Middlesbrough as the site for their forthcoming lithium refinery, delivering more than 1,000 jobs in construction and 250 long-term high-skill jobs for local people once up and running.

89% of the world’s lithium processing currently takes place in East Asia and there are currently no lithium refineries in Europe. Green Lithium aims for this to be the first merchant lithium refinery outside of Asia.

The UK Government has backed Green Lithium with a grant of over £600,000 through the Automotive Transformation Fund.

The refinery will reduce the UK’s reliance on China and have the capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium a year – enough to manufacture one million electric vehicles annually.

Engineering services company Worley will work with Green Lithium to deliver the refinery that will exceed six per cent of the whole of Europe’s anticipated battery demand by 2030.

The new refinery is designed to supply low-carbon lithium chemicals for batteries to serve the growing European market for energy storage systems and electric vehicles (EV) and in the process “contribute to the goals of decarbonisation, green jobs and long-term economic prosperity”.

Lithium is an essential component of batteries and a secure supply will be critical for our automotive and energy industries. Critical minerals are irreplaceable in products essential to our everyday lives – such as mobile phones, wind turbines and fighter jets.

Critical minerals are at high risk of supply disruption, because of volatile markets and complex supply chains. The world in 2040 is projected to need four times more critical minerals than it does today.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said:

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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