WORLEY has won a contract to help engineer the UK’s first lithium refinery as developers seek to plug a gap in supplies and take advantage of the ongoing push for decarbonisation.
Green Lithium plans to build a refinery in Teesside UK with the capacity to produce 50,000 t/y of battery-grade lithium hydroxide to help meet the growing demand for electric vehicles. There are concerns about the security of supplies of lithium, with the UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre warning that the UK has high economic vulnerability to disruptions in supply of lithium.
Sean Sargent, CEO of Green Lithium, said: “There is currently no lithium refining capability in Europe. Without localised supply, the automotive and battery manufacturing sectors in the UK and EU will fail. Critically, Green Lithium will use a world-leading, sustainable, and low-carbon refining process which has an 80% lower carbon footprint than traditional refineries in existing markets.”
Last year, Green Lithium announced that it had validated an acid-free and sulfate-free process for producing battery-grade lithium from mineral spodumene concentrate. It says it will reduce the carbon footprint of the refinery by maximising its use of renewable energy, recycling heat, and – at some point in the future – switching fuel use from natural gas to hydrogen.
Green Lithium expects to commission the refinery in 2025. It says Worley will provide engineering services for front-end loading of various supporting components of the plant’s technology system. This will involve developing the balance of engineering, supporting critical planning and permitting activities, and developing philosophy documents for controls systems and automation.
“Current lithium refining capacity in Europe doesn’t match the increasing demand for battery-grade lithium chemicals, which is projected to grow to 800,000 t by 2030. So this project is a step towards meeting demand and accelerating local lithium production,” said Ross McPherson, Senior Vice President of Chemicals, Fuels and Resources for EMEA at Worley.
Green Lithium says the refinery will create more than 1,000 jobs during construction and 200 jobs once operational.
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