Alkemy Capital Investments plc is pleased to announce that its wholly owned subsidiary Tees Valley Lithium Ltd has received full planning permission to build Europe’s largest lithium hydroxide refinery at Teesside, UK, to supply the burgeoning electric vehicle battery industry.

Following detailed studies, which included the completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), TVL has received full planning permission from Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council to construct the UK’s first world-class lithium hydroxide refinery at the Wilton International Chemicals Park in the Teesside Freeport.

A key driver for TVL’s site selection at the Wilton International Chemicals Park is the ‘plug & play’ advantages of the site, which boasts a plethora of existing infrastructure and readily accessible utilities including water, gas, steam and electricity. This, in turn, will allow TVL to begin construction without delay.

The refinery will be capable of producing both lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate sourced from imported high grade feedstock from South America and lithium producers located in Australia and elsewhere.

Building a European lithium processing facility will reduce the regional dependence on China, which currently controls 90% of the world’s lithium refining capacity, however, is expected to require all of this production domestically in order to deliver its US$11 trillion Carbon Neutral 2060 plan.

To meet the demand for the switch to electric vehicles within Europe, over 700GW of gigafactory capacity has been announced with an annual projected demand of 650,000 tonnes for locally refined lithium chemicals.

TVL’s processing refinery is expected to produce enough lithium hydroxide to supply 100% of the forecasted automotive demand in the UK by 2030, with a further 35% of its total production available for export to other countries in Europe and elsewhere.

TVL is currently in advanced discussions with a number of offtake customers, including European gigafactories and electric vehicle OEMs. These customers are increasingly focussed on price, transparency and low embedded carbon, when sourcing high grade lithium products.

To address this challenge, the Company plans to import high-grade lithium feedstock in the form of technical grade lithium carbonate and lithium sulphate from spodumene producers in Australia and elsewhere. This, in turn, helps to avoid loading up the world’s shipping fleets with low grade spodumene concentrates and reduce waste.

By sourcing low carbon feedstock and powering an electrochemical refining process with offshore wind and green hydrogen supplied by energy multinational bp’s HyGreen Teesside project, TVL aims to supply its UK and European customers with the world’s lowest-carbon lithium hydroxide.

TVL has appointed Wave International, a specialist process engineering and project delivery company, as its lead engineering and technology partner, a company with over twenty years mining industry experience and boasts an industry-leading skillset in lithium refining.

Wave has already completed a Class 4 Feasibility Study for TVL into establishing a multi-train lithium hydroxide refinery at the Wilton International Chemicals Park in the Teesside Freeport. As part of these studies, metallurgical testwork has been completed yielding ultra-pure lithium hydroxide exceeding industry standards and validated by two third party cathode active material manufacturers.

Sam Quinn, Director of Alkemy commented: “The full endorsement from the Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is a critical step in taking TVL to its next phase of developing the UK’s first lithium hydroxide refinery and spearheading a brand-new industry in Europe and a vital part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.   

This decision allows us to rapidly advance with our engineering studies ahead of construction, due to commence in 2023. The burgeoning demand from electric vehicle OEMs highlights the urgent need for significant lithium refinery capacity in Europe, which currently does not exist.  

Our strategic decision to locate in the Wilton International Chemicals Park, with direct access to comprehensive infrastructure and services and within the Teesside Freeport enables us to get into first production by 2025 and begin supplying our low carbon battery-grade lithium to customers spanning the UK and Europe.”

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor commented: “Tees Valley Lithium is yet another multi-million-pound project, creating good-quality jobs on the Teesside Freeport. With plans now approved this shovel ready project will create 1,000 jobs and should be up and running in just a couple of years.”

Frans Caljé, Chief Executive Officer of PD Ports commented: “It’s absolutely fantastic to see more inward investment coming to the Tees Valley, this time in the form of the Tees Valley Lithium project. PD Ports absolutely welcomes any project that is going to generate real jobs and prosperity for our region and we look forward to seeing the Lithium Hydroxide refinery brought to fruition to aid growing demand as we all work towards a more sustainable future.”

Ryan Hanrahan, Director and CEO of Wave International commented: “This approval is a significant milestone for the combined UK/European green energy industry, with the TVL refinery being the first merchant lithium converter to achieve full approval status in the region. With a secured site, full approvals and a feasibility study TVL are now an advanced project and a leader amongst their peer group.”