Cornish Lithium is hoping to bring a historic UK mining hub back to life with what it says is the largest single, unified mineral exploration programme in Cornwall's history.
The private company has today announced it reached an agreement with Canada's Strongbow Exploration to explore for lithium in the English county.
Five years ago, Jeremy Wrathall, chief executive of the company, said he was informed there was lithium in hot spring in Cornwall. "When the electric car revolution started to take off, I started getting very interested in what those high lithium recordings meant," he told City A.M.
Wrathall established the company in 2016 after research showed there was lithium throughout historic mines in the county and new technology offered the potential to supply batteries for electric cars and power storage.
With Strongbow, who agreed to give Cornish Lithium the rights to extract lithium and geothermal energy, the company plans to explore the potential of a new mining industry in the South West over the next two to three years.
If successful, Wrathall, a mining engineer who has also worked in investment banking, said he hopes to be producing lithium within the next five years.
"It coincides perfectly with when electric cars are really set to kick off."
Wrathall said he hopes to float his company on the London Stock Exchange at some point over the next two years, and it is looking to identify funding sources to provide around £5m in the exploration phase.
"One important distinction is this is not a traditional mining project," Wrathall said. The drilling will have a low environmental footprint and people will see little on the surface, he added.
"All the while you'll be producing a metal with lots of green potential for the UK."
In a statement after the announcement he said the project, if successful, will "give the country significant strategic advantages in a world increasingly focussed on zero emissions and renewable power".
“We believe this is a hugely exciting opportunity to put Cornwall back on the map as a mining centre as well as develop a new industry in the UK. We look forward to providing further updates as the project develops.”
The government has defined lithium, most of which comes from South America, Australia and China, as a metal of strategic importance.