Lithium Mining in Cornwall

Filed this under Technology because it revolves around the need for Lithium - and how that will increase substantially in the coming years as demand for batteries grow.

First, the article:

Now, I have 2 issues with this. First is with the industry itself - stored electrical energy is awesome, and if electric is created through renewable supplies, then it moves us forward environmentally in a massive way. However, mining is not clean - and the processes to extract Lithium will probably create pollution and blight landscapes. I’d like to see a report into the net result of mass electrification of domestic life and how much of an environmental difference it makes. I would imagine it is positive… but I’m sure there are caveats.

My second big(ger) issue is the wealth that this creates. Without unleashing a political monster on the forum (hoho) - This country lives beyond its means, and over the past few decades, our raw manufacturing has been a constant decline. We’ve focused on being a service and banking nation. With the potential demand for Lithium increases, the supply value will increase - so if it is something that we have as a natural resource, we should exploit it for our own means… It real term, I believe the industry should be forced to be Nationalised now before it gets huge OR government stipulations need to be put into place so that we maximise its value.

These mines have already be sold to Canadian firms. Sure, they’ll create local jobs, and they’ll pay tax… but we all know that clever accounting will ensure they pay the minimum. No. We should be like Norway and ensure that as much value from Lithium stays in the public purse. As a country, we could, and should, get rich from this. Then we could do things like, I dunno - pay the public sector more.

I see a great opportunity… but once again, I fear that others will get rich at the expense of the nation.

Just my 2 cents.

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‘I fear that others will get rich at the expense of the nation.’

I’m with you up to that point.

Do you mean at the expense of everyone else? If it was only a nation getting rich at everyone else’s expense, would that somehow be okay? What does your nation mean to you, and which nation are you referring to? Is greed not greed if it’s serving some kind of national identity?

This is someone making a quick buck out of someone else who wants to make a quick buck in turn. If the hypothesis that the resource will only increase in value is accurate, the appropriate plan would be to not mine it at all, as that’s diminishing the potential worth of the asset, but to maintain it while it’s value appreciates. Obviously against the risk that a new battery technology may be identified, and the odds of that probably increase the longer you wait.

Also maybe some logistical concerns; to keep profitability, will batteries be manufactured here, or would the metal (slow and relatively expensive to transport) be shipped elsewhere (probably not to the pacific rim where batteries come from), turned into batteries, and shipped back, with the consumer covering cost of transport both ways and causing further environmental impact.

reading further down, the canadian firm bought a mine in wales in 1998, but their agreement here appears to be related to prospecting/finding suitable drilling sites, for which they get a royalty on any lithium extracted. So either we don’t have the skills to do that here, whoever can do it here wants more money, or there’s some advantage to working with the canadian company (access to people, skills, technology, patents, specifically to do with an industry that’s not developed in this country) that’s worth any potential extra cost.

For what it’s worth, my (basic) understanding is that you drill down to the water table in a suitable location and pump out the water. the lithium is in the water and then gets removed by whatever industrial process. the water can then be filtered and cleaned (to a level agreed with some authority) and treated as regular water. There’s definitely lots of scope for reducing the environmental impact, but those things will go by the wayside if it make the right people a bit more money.

Good that it was right at the end then :slight_smile:

I am hugely against international corporate ownership of industries that revolve around the extraction of raw materials. I’ll come back to that.

Now, in this case - yes the report does state that the land is owned by a Canadian company who will get a payment from the whichever company actually mines the Lithium - that company appears to be multi-national too. It’s quite surprising that a company owns the land - as I thought most of Cornwall of owned by the Duke of Cornwall and the Crown.

I absolutely agree that in a financial sense, you potential could increase the value of the land based on the potential of what you could mine there without actually mining it. But the actual requirement for the raw material and the added value of actually mining it and turning it into a product probably super-seeds that.

Back to my original point about wealth of the nation. Every day we are told that there is not enough money in our NHS, our schools, our jails, our infrastructure etc etc. All these things are paid for by the population and as such, hold a combined wealth (or debt) - Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting all isolationist or nationalist - but I do believe that if you have a raw material in your ground, then it should be used to its maximum to upkeep the running of the country as apposed to letting an outside investor come in, pay a bit of tax and run away with the profits.

I hold the same opinion about Africa. I’ve had conversation in the past about imagining an Africa where the political corruption is removed and outside Western corporations stop plundering the natural resources of the continent. It’s amazing that a continent with some of the rarest and most expensive resources in the world is also one of the poorest in terms of how a majority of its population lives.

Sorry, getting political.

Finally, Norway. Their oil fund, which pays for the countries pension pot as well as other things is staggering. That’s because they didn’t just license it out to American’s for cheap tax receipts. They control it and the government controls the investment. I’m sure @Ronin could fill us in our people’s actual attitude towards it - but as far as I am aware, it’s considered a good thing…

yeah, it was near the end and i agree with most of what you say. but i don’t see the problem as being one of international corporations, political corruption, land ownership, taxation, wealth or debt. these are symptoms. The problem is human beings. Our greed is inherent enough that this behaviour (that we’ve built and grown over a few thousand years), will proliferate.

Your imagined Africa, without outside influence or plundering, and with political corruption removed, only lasts until anyone who wants more sees gathering power and wealth for themselves as a positive thing. They’ll frame it whatever way they need to to live with themselves, but it’s still greed. You can’t create a system that can’t be exploited by humans, and humans will always want to exploit it so they can have more.

You could try and elect only officials who won’t behave in that way. Good luck with that. And short of that you’re left voting for shitty people all of whom are trying to win votes by suggesting they can deliver more to a limited number of people to the detriment of everyone else (playing to people’s greed), then they leave off that last bit that no one wants to hear. Or work on the assumption that whoever loses out must be deserving of it. You can’t change the system to something else, because the system is made up of people who use the system to obtain more, and supported by people who believe the system will give them more, and you would need those people to choose to give up their ‘more’ or perceived chances of getting more, so that things could get ‘better’ (but without ‘more’ of anything), or somehow more just, or ‘right’.

Let’s not get started on all the shitty things people have done/made/said/written to try and justify themselves when every action they take is self-serving.

Thankfully, it’s all only temporary. Our planet will outlive us, there’s a fair chance life on our planet will outlive us, and the only reason we think the last few thousand years is significant is because we think everything is about ourselves.

By the best rough estimations i could find, the earth is a little under 5000000000 years old, with estimations of it being able to sustain life for maybe another 1000000000 (not human life). Humans (homo sapiens) have been around for ~200,000 years (i think) and our actual ‘civilization’ has existed for maybe 5-6000. So we’re just not that significant, and neither is our entire civilization; there’s time, and potentially still the conditions to allow our entire civilisation to collapse and re-emerge, or even for our species to die completely and something else to emerge to replace us.

So there’s that to hope for :slight_smile:


@Jester you could apply these same things to other countries. Oil was found off the coast of Ireland… Finland has some gold & other minerals, never mind the forests(Lumber). I agree that some of these things should have more goverment control, but goverments are very bad at running a business. This can be seen by the way the countries are being ran.

I’m no tree-hugger, but my problem with lithium is taht it’s horrid stuff, especially in any sort of “quantity”, so it’s hard to get rid of once mined and it’s usefulness in a battery is exhausted. Also, for rechargeables, it’s combined with Potassium - another dodgy element.
Hell, LiPo stuff is somehwat volatile (“unexplained” plane disappearances, anyone?) - I’ve bought a fireproof “explosive” bag to store, charge and discharge my LiPo rc batteries as they aren’t unknown to go pop / catch fire.

Xander can probably explain the physics of it better, mind.

Fucking hell @adrock, I feel like a need a hug after that.

Aww, c’mere fella, i got you covered.:hugs:

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How come you need a hug. That made me feel better (aka it’s not just me thinking this shit).

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there is no smiley for a solidarity hi5. Would you like a hug?

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Get me a beer, works for any ailment!:beers:

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I like to pretend we won’t end up nuking or otherwise wiping outselves off the face of the planet.

A vain hope, but a hope nonetheless!


It’s not going to happen with a nuke or two. We will pollute the planet to the point where we can not survive it. The planet goes on. Anyway by that time we will be dead so no point in worrying about it.

Edit: I’m a realist, in case someone tries to comment on this.