Tees Valley Lithium, a subsidiary of Alkemy Capital Investments, has been granted full planning permission from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council to build a £250m lithium hydroxide refinery at the Wilton International Chemicals Park in the Teesside Freeport.
Construction is now ready to start, with process engineer Wave International appointed as lead contractor.
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 in Australia and elsewhere. It is expected to produce 96,000 tonnes a year of battery-grade lithium hydroxide once in full production – equivalent to 15% of projected European demand.
China currently controls 90% of the world’s lithium refining capacity but is expected to require all of this production domestically before long to support its own net zero ambitions.
Alkemy director Sam Quinn said: “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.”
Wave International chief executive Ryan Hanrahan said: “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.”