A foggy, overgrown quarry in a quiet part of Cornwall is a good place to contemplate Britain’s industrial past. It is here that miners used steam power, explosives and their own hands to dig out china clay for ceramics. The industry helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution and briefly made Redruth one of the richest places in the UK.
The quarry is also a pretty good place to contemplate Britain’s industrial future. Cornish Lithium, a UK startup, is one of a clutch of businesses hoping to revive British mining amid a global scramble for the battery minerals that are crucial for the transition away from fossil fuels.
The shift to electric cars is upending the automotive industry. It has also set off a scramble for the minerals that will be used in every vehicle. This article, the second in Electric Dreams, a series exploring the UK’s efforts to save its car industry by building an automotive battery industry, will examine how mining companies are hoping to provide the first stage of the supply chain: the minerals that will be crucial to every car battery.
There are already battery factories under way in the UK, with Chinese company Envision in Sunderland and under-pressure startup Britishvolt in Northumberland both starting building work.