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Cornish Lithium in Cornwall UK Exploring Almost Untapped, Mining Province to Produce a Lithium Supply for the UK and Europe: Interview with Jeremy Wrathall, Founder and CEO

on 1/7/2020
Jeremy Wrathall, Founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium tells us more about the first crowd-funded mining company in the UK. Lithium in brine was first identified in Cornwall in 1864 and even then was identified as a source that could have great commercial significance. Demand for lithium in Europe is rapidly rising and the region is expected to become the second largest source of demand in the world. The fact that there is currently no commercial source of battery grade lithium is of great concern to European automakers, making the region totally dependent on imports. Given that lithium has been identified in both brine and hardrock in Cornwall, Jeremy is very excited about the potential that his projects have to supply the UK and Europe. He believes that “Cornish Lithium has a unique opportunity, here in the UK, to explore in one of the best, almost untapped, mining provinces of the world and to produce a lithium supply for the UK and possibly for Europe as well.” Cornish Lithium has a large role to play in the UK lithium market and is a Company to watch.

Cornish Lithium

Dr. Allen Alper: This is Dr. Allen Alper, Editor-in-Chief of Metals News, talking with Jeremy Wrathall, who is Founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium. Jeremy, could you give our readers/investors, an overview of your Company and what differentiates your Company from others?

Jeremy Wrathall, Founder and CEO of Cornish Lithium

Jeremy Wrathall: Our Company is noteworthy, Allen, in that we are a Company, looking for lithium in brine in Cornwall. Lithium in brine was first identified in Cornwall in 1864 a very, very long time ago, when it was found numerous times, coming into old tin and copper mines, when they hit certain geological structures underground. They analyzed the water coming into the mine and found it contained large amounts of lithium. That sampling practice continued right up until the last mine shut in 1998. We identified the opportunity to see whether we can extract these brines from deep boreholes, very similar to a normal brine project to use modern direct lithium extraction techniques to extract it and produce battery grade lithium chemicals. That's a short overview of the Company.

Dr. Allen Alper: Excellent! Could you tell our readers/investors more about your project and what your plans are for the remainder of 2019 going into 2020?

Jeremy Wrathall: Since we founded the Company in 2016, we've assembled a large geological team. We have over 14 geological professionals at our office in Cornwall. We have been modeling the structures that we believe are the conduits for lithium bearing geothermal brines, from historic mine data, putting them into modern digital three-dimensional packages and also into GIS. We have also assembled a very large portfolio of agreements, with mineral rights owners in Cornwall, because in the UK, the mineral rights are held by private individuals. We have a large portfolio of agreements, with many such individuals, over an area around 500 square kilometers or more.

We have now identified the most promising sites from historical data, but have also been using data from satellites and drones to complement our work. We are drilling our first two research holes into the area where we have most data to test, to see what the grade might be of the lithium in brine and to see what the rock looks like, what the porosity is, et cetera, et cetera. Those are our first drill holes, so we're very excited about that. Because the agreements we have negotiated, with mineral rights owners encompass other metals in addition to lithium, we have used our data to re-evaluate the mineral prospectivity of the whole area. Cornwall was once renowned for mining tin and copper, but also hosted mines producing cobalt and tungsten, amongst other metals. We believe that the Company is not a one trick pony anymore, given the many opportunities we see to exploit other metals. Cornwall hasn't been explored for metals for at least 30 years, while the world has moved on everywhere else. Cornwall still has huge potential, given that the area hosted an estimated 3,000 metal mines in the past.

Dr. Allen Alper: Well that sounds very good. Could you tell our readers/investors about your background and your team?

Jeremy Wrathall: I'm a mining engineer by background. I trained at the world-famous Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall and then went to work in South Africa on the gold mines. Then I came back to London and started an investment banking career. I spent nearly 30 years financing mines all over the world and I think I've listed a mining company, or help to list a mining company, on every recognized mining exchange.

Then in 2016 I decided to start Cornish Lithium, following the realization that Europe needed to identify sources of lithium, given the rapid rise in demand that was expected due to the electric car revolution. Having gathered a large collection of historic records of lithium in brine in Cornwall, I realized that this could be a very exciting opportunity. We started to build our exploration team in late 2017 and have now assembled a strong team, of geoscientists. The reason that most of our team are young is that they have grown up using 3D graphics packages and are hence able to build excellent models from historic data. We do however have some older and more experienced people like myself and our Head of Exploration, who was at the Camborne School of Mines with me.

The thing I'm most proud of, is that we've achieved something no mining company has ever achieved in the past. On team of 12 geoscientists, we now have an equal number of men and women – something we are very proud of.

Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that sounds very good. What are your key objectives for 2020?

Jeremy Wrathall: Our key objectives for 2020, are to do further work on our lithium brine prospects. Hopefully to drill more holes during 2020 and also to advance our projects in base metals. We're getting more and more data on the opportunity to mine in Cornwall. We have great support from both national and local governments and recently won funding from the UK Government sponsored Faraday Battery Challenge Fund, which was set up to support research into electric vehicles and associated technologies, here in the UK. The Cornwall Council is extremely supportive of mining and see it as a key opportunity to rejuvenate the local economy. The British government has designated Cornish mining as a high potential opportunity for the UK.

Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that sounds very good. Are you listed on an exchange?

Jeremy Wrathall: No, we are a private company. We've raised three rounds of funding in total with the latest being via crowdfunding. I believe it's certainly the first crowd funded mining company in the UK, ever. We raised 1.4 million pounds despite having set out to raise one million pounds, so we smashed our target and are very happy with that. At some stage we will seek a listing, but not for the next three years or so.

Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that sounds like a good plan.

Jeremy Wrathall: Yeah.

Dr. Allen Alper: As far as potential investors are concerned, what would you say are the primary reasons they should consider investing in your Company?

Jeremy Wrathall: I think the primary reason somebody might consider investing in this Company is that it is a very specific opportunity. Cornwall has not been explored for many, many years. It was one of, if not the most prolific mining center many years ago, but still has enormous potential and I think we have first mover advantage. We’ve tied up a huge portfolio of mineral rights agreements. And we think the county is highly prospective for not just lithium, but also for tin, copper and potentially for cobalt. We have identified over 50 occurrences of cobalt in Cornwall. There were at least two mines where cobalt was the primary product, none of which have been looked at for many, many years.

I think the exciting thing remains our project to identify lithium in brine here in Cornwall - that's our primary focus, and currently most exciting opportunity. If we can do more research and prove that this is a commercial opportunity, it can be replicated across Cornwall because Cornwall is underlain by one of the largest lithium enriched granites in the entire world, as defined by the USGS.

We see the opportunity to establish a fairly large lithium extraction facility here in the UK, which is going to be much needed for Europe, because Europe is going to become the second largest demand source for lithium battery chemicals in the world. Europe has Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, et cetera, based here. They're going to need an enormous amount of lithium, as the world moves to low carbon. As Volkswagen said, lithium is the essential element of the electric era. So that's why we think it's an attractive opportunity.

Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that sounds excellent. Is there anything else you'd like to add Jeremy?

Jeremy Wrathall: We believe we have a unique opportunity, here in the UK, to explore in one of the best, almost untapped mining provinces of the world and to produce a lithium supply for the UK and possibly for Europe as well. I think it's very exciting!

Dr. Allen Alper: It sounds great. You're using an exciting technology, the geothermal approach.

Jeremy Wrathall: Yes, they're doing similar research in California, in the Salton Sea and are using what is now being termed “Direct lithium Extraction” or DLE technology. They're also doing research on lithium projects in Nevada. A lot of places are planning to adopt this DLE technology, including another one in Europe, called the Vulcan Energy Project, which is owned by the Australian listed company, Koppar Resources.

Dr. Allen Alper: Sounds exciting. It sounds like you'll have an excellent team in place, doing wonderful work in the area geologically and technically, and building a plant in an area with a long history of mining. Sounds like things are in place for you.

Jeremy Wrathall: Yeah. And Allen, if you ever get a chance to come over and visit us in Cornwall, you'd be very, very welcome, I think you'd find it fascinating given your background.

Dr. Allen Alper: Oh, that would be great. I love England. I'm also a fan of Poldark and many, many other shows on BritBox and Acorn.

Jeremy Wrathall: Great. Well come and see it, come and see it, you'll be very welcome.

Dr. Allen Alper: That sounds great. I appreciate it. We’ll publish your press releases as they come out so our readers/investors can follow your progress.

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