Local community representatives visited the Imerys British Lithium (IBL) pilot plant near Roche in December as part of Imerys’ Community Liaison meetings. They were invited to listen to an update on the company’s plans for the construction of a full-scale lithium processing plant. 

More than twenty people, including town and village councillors, attended presentations by Imerys UK Director Mark Hewson, Imerys’ Lithium Projects Vice-President Alan Parte, and CEO of IBL Andrew Smith. Guests enjoyed a guided tour of the existing lithium processing pilot plant – the first of its kind in Europe – which IBL has been using to develop its patented process since January 2022. This plant, a small scale version of what is planned, is already producing battery-grade lithium carbonate from Cornish granite. 

Mark Hewson hosted the event and opened with an Imerys update, explaining how the business is doing and what is expected for 2024. 

Alan Parte then gave an overview of the project and provided context by explaining the Imerys lithium project in France, which is being developed in tandem with the plans in the UK. 

Andrew Smith highlighted the promising results of the current drilling campaign that has significantly accelerated in 2023, and which is targeted to confirm the attractiveness of the deposit. The meeting also discussed IBL’s plan to quarry, process, and refine lithium carbonate at one site, to minimise traffic on local roads. Attendees were pleased to hear that over 350 jobs should be created.

“We were delighted to welcome the Imerys Community Liaison Group to our pilot plant,” said Andrew Smith.

“Everyone is very supportive and enthusiastic about our plans, and we will strive to deliver a project that works for these communities.

Alan Parte added: “Combining British Lithium’s expertise with Imerys’ strong local roots and know-how on mineral-based speciality solutions has been a big step forward – not just for us, but for Cornwall as a whole.”

Mark Hewson explaied: “Our Community Liaison Group meets twice a year and it has long been an essential communication channel between Imerys and our local communities.  

“I’m delighted to be able to use this platform to begin to explain our plans for lithium extraction and processing with our partners Imerys British Lithium.  We have an exciting couple of years ahead and it is so important to us that we continue to work in partnership with the communities that have long lived alongside and supported our operations.”

This event was the first in a series of consultations continuing into 2024. The first public drop-in event will be on 21 February at Roche Village Hall from 2 – 7:30 pm. Anyone can pop in during these hours to ask the planning team questions about the project.

IBL has also just published its first community newsletter, which has been distributed to all homes in St Austell and the clay villages. It can also be accessed online here

For more information, visit www.imerysbritishlithium.co.uk