Two key lithium projects in the North East have been awarded more than £600,000 to work together on building a  unique production route from 'borehole to battery'.

Weardale Lithium, a natural resources company based in County Durham has announced that together with Tees Valley Lithium, it has secured a joint funding package of £613,000, which includes a grant of £430,000 from Innovate UK.

Through collaborative research and development, the two companies are building upon the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year to evaluate the potential benefits of both producing and refining lithium.

The project is specifically concerned with novel methods for the production and refinement of lithium extracted from geothermal brine.

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The funding will advance feasibility studies and scale-up activities to further a battery-supply chain industrial hub and include the evaluation of the potential for Weardale Lithium to supply lithium to Tees Valley Lithium for refining.

Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency. It drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas.

The funding provided under the Launchpad: Net Zero, CR&D Tees Valley, R2 competition supports outstanding innovation projects that grow activities in the Net Zero innovation cluster centred on Tees Valley and supports the Government’s goals in the Levelling Up White Paper.

The Northern Echo: Stewart Dickson, CEO of Weardale LithiumStewart Dickson, CEO of Weardale Lithium (Image: Press release)

Stewart Dickson, CEO of Weardale Lithium, said: "Weardale Lithium has the objective to become a UK supplier of lithium from geothermal brines. This collaborative project with Tees Valley Lithium is another important step in developing an integrated and coherent supply of lithium in North East England. In order to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and meet net-zero targets, the UK needs to secure a supply of lithium for refining and production of battery-grade lithium products.

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Having been the first company to produce lithium carbonate from geothermal brines in the North East earlier this year, we are entering a scale-up phase. This collaboration with Tees Valley Lithium is highly-beneficial for both parties as we both seek to advance towards larger scale testing and construction of pilot facilities.

"A local supply of high-value critical minerals products should generate highly skilled science, technology and engineering opportunities and at the same time, reducing the environmental impacts and supply risks of imported raw materials”.

Sam Quinn, Director of Tees Valley Lithium said: “We are delighted to have received this grant from Innovate UK and look forward to our collaboration with Weardale Lithium as we seek to bring back high value manufacturing to the North East and help develop a potential UK-based supply chain for the lithium sector.

"At Wilton in the Teesside Freeport, TVL is establishing Europe’s largest low-carbon merchant lithium hydroxide refinery. Each of the four trains at Wilton will take feedstock in the form of lithium sulphate or crude carbonate, to produce 24,000 tpa of battery-grade lithium hydroxide (or carbonate equivalent) feeding directly into the European and international battery cell manufacturers.”