E3 is a company that sees opportunity in Alberta’s depleted oil and gas reserves. The technology it is testing will, if successful, extract lithium from brine in old wells, material that could eventually find its way into the batteries that power electric vehicles.
Brines (in salt ponds) and spodumene (hard rock) represent the two main sources of commercial lithium production.
E3 says it has developed Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology that connects conventional oilfield and lithium processing, unlocking Alberta’s previously untapped lithium resources. The company’s goal is to commercialize its global-scale lithium resource and deliver zero carbon emissions, battery grade, lithium products to the growing electric vehicle supply chain.
The company recently received approval on its Facility Application from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)for its 2023 field pilot plant. The license granted by AER allows E3 to construct and operate the necessary equipment to run the direct lithium extraction plant. “We are happy to remain on track and on budget for a successful pilot plant beginning operations in the third quarter of 2023,” said E3 President and CEO Chris Doornbos.
Doornbos said the pilot plant will be located at the first well that E3 drilled during its 2022 inaugural drill program, located east of the town of Olds in the company’s Clearwater Project area
He said E3 is positioned to meet global demand for lithium after being awarded $27 million from the government of Canada’s Strategic Investment Fund in 2022. The company also executed a US$5 million strategic agreement with Imperial Oil Ltd. [IMO-TSX], representing the first investment in lithium from a global energy industry leader.
In addition, the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Pure Lithium, which produced a lithium metal battery using E3’s lithium concentrate.
E3 said it has outlined a measured and indicated resource of 16 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) as well as an inferred resource of 900,000 tonnes of inferred resources in Alberta.
On Tuesday, E3 said on-site work is focused on the installation and operation of the downhole equipment in preparation for brine production for the pilot. E3 said it will also conduct a pre-pilot reservoir test that will add to its understanding of the reservoir fluid characterization for future development work. The site is also being graded and prepared in advance of equipment arriving. The next stage includes installation of the piping and protective structure over the next four to six weeks.
Manufacturing of the lithium extraction process equipment and E3’s sorbent continues off site and is on track to arrive early in the third quarter. The company anticipates it will require approximately four weeks to install and commission the equipment once on site prior to full operations commencing.
E3 shares were largely unchanged on the news, easing 1.1% or $0.03 to $2.72 in light trading. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $2.87 and $1.59.