Li4UK/Tevi workhop: Mapping the UK’s future circular economy for lithium-ion batteries
On March 12th 2020 Li4UK and Tevi brought together a range of stakeholders and experts from the lithium-ion battery supply chain for a series of talks and workshop discussions at the Old Bakery Studios in Truro.
The one-day workshop was part of the 15-month Li4UK project funded by Innovate UK as part of the UK Government’s Faraday Battery Challenge. The project aims to address the critical missing links in the UK’s battery material supply chain by identifying the requisite processing technologies and possible sources of raw materials needed to develop a sustainable, domestic lithium supply chain.
The key aims of the day were to address what the potential benefits and challenges of securing a domestic supply chain are; how the circular economy model can be incorporated into the supply chain; what is the UK’s future demand for lithium; and what is required from stakeholders?
Over 40 participants from across the supply chain attended including local mineral exploration companies Cornish Lithium and British Lithium; mineral processing companies Grinding Solutions and Lithium Australia; and battery manufacturers PV3 Technologies and EcoNiLi Battery Inc. In addition, university researchers focusing on new battery technologies and the circular economy from the Universities of Exeter and Birmingham were in attendance.
Seven speakers gave a series of engaging and informative talks in between four workshop sessions addressing each section of the supply chain. Dr Edvard Glücksman introduced Tevi and its work on environmental growth with local Cornish businesses whilst Lucy Crane of Cornish Lithium introduced the Li4UK Project and lithium exploration in the UK. The Li4UK outreach video was premiered and well received by attendees. Talks followed on the challenges of processing lithium minerals (Wardell Armstrong) and the expected growth of battery megafactories and implications for raw material demand (Benchmark). Nic Bilham, of the University of Exeter Business School and Camborne School of Mines, discussed different circular economy models and how they can be incorporated into the ideas of responsible mining and responsible sourcing of materials. Morning workshops covered stakeholders’ current thoughts on the lithium market and challenges foreseen in sourcing materials through sustainable means.
The afternoon sessions focused on downstream activities including battery technologies and wide-scale manufacturing of components, including talks from Alberto Minguela of HSSMI and Dr David Hodgson from PV3 Technologies based in Launceston. Two panel sessions gave the audience a chance to ask questions of experts; there was a keen interest in understanding how the rapid rate of change of battery technologies will impact upstream companies processing and producing lithium chemicals, and how demand for certain chemicals will increase or change.
The workshop was a huge success, bringing together a range of stakeholders that do not regularly meet due to their different positions in the supply chain. Fruitful discussions on the requirements each stakeholder has for materials will help companies plan future production plants and supply routes. Li4UK will complete the project by the Summer of 2020 with a public report summarising the findings of the 15-month project on the prospectivity of a domestic supply chain for the critical raw material. Discussions will continue between members of the upstream and downstream sectors of the UK supply chain to ensure any gaps and opportunities in the supply chain are identified.
The workshop aimed to bring together stakeholders and experts across the UK lithium supply chain, from exploration to automotive manufacturing, for a day of engaging talks and workshops. Key questions the workshop addressed were:
- What are the benefits and challenges of securing a domestic supply chain?
- How can the circular economy be enabled in the supply chain?
- What is the UK’s future demand for lithium and what is required from stakeholders?
We had participants and stakeholders from across the lithium battery supply chain including:
- CEOs and senior geologists from Cornish Lithium and British Lithium
- Mineral processors, geothermal and mining industry consultants (PetroLab, Grinding Solutions, Wardall Armstrong, GeoScience Ltd, and Lithium Australia)
- Manufacturing consultants including HSSMI and Enabled Future
- Battery manufacturers and recyclers (PV3 Technologies, EcoNiLi Battery Inc, HJ Enthoven)
- Market Analyst firms Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Roskill and Rho Motion
- Circular Economy and battery researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Birmingham
- Minviro – company that focuses on life cycle assessments of supply chain
- Local government and enterprises
We had 7 speakers from across the supply chain (exploration through to battery production) and experts present on the circular economy:
- Dr Edvard Glücksman (Tevi) – an introduction to Tevi, its engagement with local businesses and promotion of circular economy models
- Lucy Crane (Cornish Lithium) – a summary and update of the Li4UK project
- Dominic Conybeare (Wardall Armstrong) – a summary of global lithium projects, how to process lithium from hard rock deposits and the UK requirements of processing for lithium
- Robert Colbourn (Benchmark Mineral Intelligence) – the rise of lithium ion battery megafactories and the impact this has on the demand of raw materials
- Nic Bilham (University of Exeter CSM and Business School) – the concepts of responsible mining and responsible sourcing and a realistic circular economy model
- Alberto Minguela (HSSMI) – the VALUABLE project and circular economy models for manufacturing companies
- Dr David Hodgson (PV3 Technologies) – the production of batteries and changing technologies
- Bring together stakeholders from the entire supply chain who would not normally meet
- Start discussions on different requirements of stakeholders and how they can be supplied
- Discussions on expected changes in technology in the future that would impact the supply chain
- Completion of Li4UK Project
- Build on networking from workshop and continue discussions between upstream and downstream members of the supply chain
- Apply for a second phase of funding to further exploration and processing of lithium raw materials in the UK