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Build & Sustainability

Weardale Lithium to accelerate electric vehicle battery mineral work after ‘very positive’ trials

A firm behind work to drive electric vehicle battery development says it has moved closer to production following “very positive” lithium trials.

Weardale Lithium is scaling up testing after successful extraction from underground County Durham brines.

Bosses say the achievements – secured alongside Watercycle Technologies – leave it well placed to push ahead with plans for a pilot plant, which, if successful, could lead to a full-scale factory capable of producing 10,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate every year and employing as many as 125 people.

They say it could also deliver £1 billion gross economic value.

Lithium is a critical raw material in electric vehicle battery production, but there is presently no commercial production or refining in the UK or Europe.

And in such an environment, Stewart Dickson, Weardale Lithium chief executive, says its test results show the North East is ready to lead the way.

He said: “The supply of domestic lithium is of strategic importance to the UK’s net-zero ambitions and production of high-value batteries for electric vehicles.


  • Weardale Lithium’s Stewart Dickson, left, with a sample of the geothermal brine, and Watercycle Technologies’ Dr Seb Leaper, with lithium carbonate


“We have taken a significant step forward in establishing the naturally occurring geothermal brines are amenable for lithium production and validated a number of direct lithium extraction processes.

“While there is still much to do, we have made significant steps towards being able to generate a domestic supply of lithium in the North East that will support vehicle electrification in the years to come.”

Weardale Lithium trialled multiple extraction methods with grant support from the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s Automotive Transformation Fund.

Julian Hetherington, director of automotive transformation at the Advanced Propulsion Centre, said: “Projects such as this are vital in securing upstream supply to support the UK’s forecast demand of over 97GWh of automotive batteries by 2030.”