Two North East companies have reached a major milestone to deliver a domestic supply of lithium in the UK.

Northern Lithium, working in County Durham and Darlington-based Sheers have signed an agreement alongside Evove from the North West aimed at delivering the UK’s first commercial-scale Direct Lithium Extraction plant.

Successful industrial-scale production of battery-grade lithium from Northern Lithium’s Northern Pennine Orefield brines was achieved at Evove’s UK DLE Test Centre in August. Northern Lithium is now targeting an initial commercial supply of lithium from its first planned production site at Ludwell Farm, Eastgate, County Durham in late 2026 / early 2027, having selected Evove’s advanced DLE technology and process engineering experts Sheers.

Success will allow Northern Lithium to roll out subsequent production sites with Evove DLE across a large area of the Northern Pennine Orefield, County Durham, where Northern Lithium has secured key long-term mineral and land rights.

Northern Lithium is targeting commercial production of up to 10,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium per year in the North East within the next decade, to supply to UK gigafactories and the electric vehicle manufacturing industry.

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The advantage of DLE with Evove lies in the ability to extract lithium at a high purity. In contrast to conventional approaches, the Evove system puts filtration technology at its core, processing brines containing lithium very cleanly, reducing the energy, water and chemical footprint and improving the economics.

Nick Pople, Managing Director of Northern Lithium said: “We are delighted to take the next development step and create this all-UK partnership with Evove and Sheers in a landmark project in County Durham to deliver a first commercial scale DLE plant within the next 3-4 years.

“Our ambition beyond that is to establish the North East as a key supply source for domestic lithium, not only providing a direct economic benefit to the local and regional economy, but also directly contributing to the UK government’s energy transition plans and targets to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Chris Wyres, CEO of Evove, commented: “This partnership symbolises a really significant development in the UK, with highly advanced technology from the northwest of England paired with process engineering expertise from the North East to produce lithium from saline brines in County Durham. We are delighted that Northern Lithium have made Evove their chosen DLE technology partner and that we can collaborate with our long-standing engineering partner Sheers to deliver what will be one of the world’s most advanced DLE lithium production plants.”

Sheers Managing Director Roy Warren added: “We have jointly developed a compact, versatile, adaptable modular layout. That approach brings the advantage of high quality, reliability and repeatability, and drives down costs.”