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Green Lithium to build UK’s first large-scale lithium refinery

Published by
Global Mining Review,

Green Lithium has announced that it will build the UK’s first large-scale lithium refinery at PD Ports, in Teesside, UK. The creation of this substantial facility will begin to meet the urgent needs of the battery manufacturing and automotive sectors within the UK and the EU, as the global transition to electric vehicles (EVs) drives an increasing necessity for lithium processing capabilities on the continent.

The construction of the refinery will help drive the UK’s levelling up agenda as well as supporting local and regional development. Development and construction of the facility will drive significant growth and investment into the local area, creating over 1000 jobs during the construction phase and 250 full-time local and highly-skilled green jobs once in operation. Construction is expected to take three years and the plant will be commissioned during 2025.

Green Lithium is committed to transforming the refining process, historically a dirty supply chain component by establishing leading ESG credentials, targeting net zero on Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2035 whilst working with supply chain partners to minimise Scope 3 emissions and reducing its carbon footprint to significantly lower than existing international refineries. In fact, the refining process at Teesside will have a carbon footprint 80% lower than the traditional processes currently used internationally, with a carbon intensity of only 3.3 kg of CO2 emitted per kg of lithium hydroxide produced compared with the international average of 16.2 kg.

This will be achieved through integrating low-energy processes with renewable electricity and by ensuring the refining plant is capable of utilising hydrogen gas and is carbon capture enabled. Additionally, there will be no wider environmental impact due to the refinery’s use of a non-acid leach process flowsheet with zero liquid discharge and no sulphates in its output.

The refinery will provide annual production of approximately 50 000 t of low-carbon, battery-grade lithium chemicals that will help meet Europe’s growing demand. Green Lithium’s product will go into the supply chain for lithium-ion batteries, energy storage, grid stabilisation and EV batteries. For example, the forecast level of annual production will enable the production of roughly 1 million EVs in a European market producing over 15 million by 2030.

Sean Sargent, Chief Executive Officer of Green Lithium, commented:

“Green Lithium’s vision is to support the acceleration of adoption of EVs and sustainable energy storage by increasing the supply of low carbon lithium chemicals, enabling the planet’s transition to sustainable energy.

“There is currently no lithium refining capability in Europe; localised lithium refining is urgently required to meet the exponential growth of European demand and protect against uncertainty from precarious international supply chains. Without localised supply Europe’s battery energy storage and automotive sectors will fail. “Critically Green Lithium will use a world-leading, sustainable and low-carbon refining process, which has an 80% lower carbon footprint than traditional refineries in existing markets.”

Frans Calje, Chief Executive of PD Ports, said:

“PD Ports is delighted that Green Lithium has chosen Teesport as the base for this project which holds such national importance.

“We cannot lose momentum on our commitment, as a country, to reach net zero by 2050. Within PD Ports, sustainability is right at the top of our agenda, and we are on-track to reach our ambitious target of carbon-neutrality across our Tees operations by just 2027. “We look forward to working alongside Green Lithium on this project which will, in turn, deliver our shared ambitions of levelling up the Tees Valley, creating real, sustainable jobs and driving a low-carbon economy.”

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