Trafigura boost for Green Lithium refinery in UK

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Green Lithium has agreed terms with commodity trader Trafigura that supports the development of a commercial lithium refinery in the UK.

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The new refinery will supply European electric vehicle and battery manufacturers with battery-grade lithium. Singapore-based Trafigura will supply lithium feedstock for the refinery and invest equity in Green Lithium’s development phase funding round.

Sean Sargent, CEO at London-based Green Lithium, said his company’s refinery will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and sustainable energy storage through the increased supply of low-carbon, battery-grade lithium.

In July, 2021 Green Lithium said its refinery will create over 1,000 jobs during construction, and 200 jobs once operational. The 50,000 tonne per annum refinery will produce enough lithium hydroxide to enable the manufacture of more than a million EVs per year. The company will utilise renewable energy and hydrogen in the refining process to minimise CO2 emissions, and will create circular economies in battery recycling whilst eliminating process waste through the re-use of by-products.

“This landmark project has the potential to revolutionise the European supply chain for EV production and sustainable energy storage at this critical time in the energy transition,” said Socrates Economou, head of nickel and cobalt trading for Trafigura.

Following its initial private funding round, Green Lithium is currently raising capital to fund its development phase activity.

It is forecast that the growing demand for battery-grade lithium chemicals will not be met by global refining capacity that exists or is planned. Increasing and diversifying supply will be vital for the commercial viability of the European battery supply chain, which is reliant on China for battery metals.

Commenting on the announcement, Charles Bond, a natural resources partner at the law firm Gowling WLG said: “This would be a welcome development for the nascent UK lithium industry but will need long term financial commitment from the government to compete with the Chinese in an industry they currently dominate.”