Australian scientific technology to verify the provenance of UK lithium

05 Jul 2021

UK eco-technology company, Cornish Lithium, and Australian scientific technology company, Source Certain International (SCI) have joined forces to develop a unique “trust mark” for UK-mined lithium.

SCI’s scientific provenance verification technology can identify the origin of lithium within a battery, down to a specific mine site operated by Cornish Lithium.

The project will contribute to the UK’s new strategies around the supply of critical minerals such as cobalt and lithium needed for clean technologies like electric vehicles. It will also address growing consumer interest in product provenance and ethical sourcing.

Cornish Lithium and SCI are hopeful their work will form a foundation for developing a transparent and accountable lithium supply chain for batteries in the UK.

Developing a lithium “trust mark”

The demand for lithium compounds used in lithium-ion batteries is expected to grow exponentially with the increase in electric vehicle production. Cornish Lithium and Source Certain International (SCI)’s partnership to develop a lithium trust mark is therefore timely.

The UK depends on imports of battery-grade lithium compounds to manufacture lithium batteries. Most of the world’s lithium is produced in South America or Australia and shipped to China for processing into battery-grade lithium chemicals. There is currently no commercial battery-grade lithium production in Europe.

Cornish Lithium is attempting to address this missing link in the UK’s battery-material supply chain. The company is a member of a consortium funded by Innovate UK as part of the UK Government’s Faraday Battery Challenge.

The Securing Domestic Lithium Supply Chain for UK (Li4UK) consortium comprises Cornish Lithium; Wardell Armstrong, a UK-based engineering and mining consultancy; and the Natural History Museum. The group aims to demonstrate the feasibility of producing battery-quality lithium compounds from lithium found in UK rocks and geothermal waters.

In the next stage, SCI plans to apply its scientific provenance verification technology TSW Trace® to establish a reference database of all Cornwall-sourced lithium. The samples in the database would then be cross-referenced against lithium in the battery supply chain to verify its UK origin.

Critical minerals to underpin global economy’s resilience

Critical minerals were high on the agenda at the recent 2021 G7 summit. Discussions focused on the role minerals will play in helping the global economy turn the corner on the pandemic and pursue a green recovery.

The Li4UK consortium has increased awareness among local and national government bodies of the vital role that critical minerals will play in the UK’s clean growth and future mobility ambitions.

SCI is confident its technology will provide the appropriate level of precision to verify the origin and authenticity of lithium mined by Cornish Lithium. This will in turn meet the demands of consumers who are increasingly interested in where items and their components come from, and the impact of their purchase on people and the environment.