Europe’s largest lithium hydroxide refinery on Teesside was approved for production. These materials will be used for electric vehicle batteries. The Tees Valley Lithium is to be built on Wilton International Chemical Park, near Redcar. This will be part of Teesworks freeport.
The £248m project could create 1,000 jobs, including its construction phase, with production to begin in 2025. Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council granted planning permission. Around 89% of the world’s lithium processing is in East Asia. The business said the site could produce lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate, which are critical for manufacturing batteries, and would be sourced from imported raw materials from South America and lithium producers in Australia and elsewhere.
Sam Quinn, director of owner Alkemy, said construction was due to commence in 2023. “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 the first production by 2025 and begin supplying our low carbon battery-grade lithium to customers spanning the UK and Europe.” The move was backed by Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and PD Ports chief executive Frans Caljé.
Currently, 89% of the world’s hard-rock lithium is processed in East Asia, with domestic demand expected to outstrip production by 2030. The UK and EU’s reliance on international sources for their refined lithium chemical imports is creating uncertainty over the security of supply, price, and volume, the spokesperson added.
Green Lithium chief executive Sean Sargent said: “There is currently no lithium refining capability in Europe; localized lithium refining is urgently required to meet the exponential growth of European demand and protect against uncertainty from precarious international supply chains. Without localized supply, Europe’s battery, energy storage, and automotive sectors will fail.”
Frans Calje, PD Ports chief executive added: “PD Ports is delighted that Green Lithium has chosen Teesport as the base for this project which holds such national importance. “We cannot lose momentum on our commitment, as a country, to reach Net Zero by 2050. Within PD Ports, sustainability is right at the top of our agenda, and we are on track to reach our ambitious target of carbon neutrality across our Tees operations by just 2027. “We look forward to working alongside Green Lithium on this project which will, in turn, deliver our shared ambitions of leveling up the Tees Valley, creating real, sustainable jobs, and driving a low-carbon economy.”