RGN | E3 Metals

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Lithium hydroxide production from brine usi


ing revolutionary DLE processing technology


When future generations look back at the current era of societal development, they will likely view the COVID-19 pandemic as a human tragedy first and foremost, but also as ‘the great accelerator’ of various economic forces and social trends, the most important of which being the global green energy transition.

E3 Metals’ goal is to support

The decarbonisation of transport is one aspect of this process that was solidified in a COVIDdominated 2020, as auto manufacturers made increased commitments to electrifying their fleets and governments in key markets legislated aggressive pro-electric vehicle (EV) policies.

Contemporary lithium brine

The combination of improving conditions for EVs, attempts to secure high quality supply of critical minerals and the solidification of the lithiumion and lithium batteries for mobile electrification has provided the perfect springboard for E3 Metals to catapult itself into North America’s battery metals/ EV supply chain with its unique lithium brine project in Alberta, Canada.

developed a simple, clean

the global EV revolution by producing battery grade lithium hydroxide using a novel processing technique that is set to revolutionise how lithium concentrate is removed from brine in Alberta and around the world.

production is dominated by the vast white deposits within Latin America’s lithium triangle, where time consuming and antiquated methods are required to extract the valuable lithium from the dry salt flats. However, E3 Metals has method for generating lithium hydroxide from the prolific Leduc Reservoir in Alberta, where brine is currently being produced to surface through extensive oil and gas development. Producing a crucial metal for the green energy revolution in a former oilfield is rather poetic and almost a microcosm of the transition taking place in


the global economy, and the

support those hydrocarbon-

local economy at that. With a

based businesses,” explains

large-scale resource and game-

E3 Metals president, CEO

changing processing method,

and director Chris Doornbos.

E3 Metals is at the vanguard of

“However, decreasing oil

the transition.

prices have had a huge impact

The Alberta advantage

on the local economy and the Province is looking to diversify.”

Lithium production in Alberta operates similarly to the way

Fortunately, the Provincial

hydrocarbon production

Government does not have

operates, by moving fluids

to look far in its quest for

from the aquifer to extract the

diversification. In fact, the

commodity. This process has

answer lies in the lithium

been in place since the first

brine located below surface

discovery of ‘black gold’ in the

in the depleted oil reservoirs

1940s, thus kicking off the oil

of the Leduc Formation. All

rush in Alberta.

that is required is for an entity to extract the ‘white gold’ and

This boom created a mature

process it into the valuable end

industry in the province

use product. Step forward E3

whereby expertise, social


licence, infrastructure, permitting and skilled labour

The company is advancing a

already exist and can be

significant lithium resource by

transferred to a lithium project

producing in the same manner

with ease.

as the established local industry. The key difference

“In Alberta, the majority of

is that E3 Metals deploys its

industry is hydrocarbon-

own proprietary direct lithium

based and the surrounding

extraction (DLE) technology

infrastructure is built to

that will extract the lithium

“The PEA outlined a 20,000 tonnes per year lithium hydroxide operation for 20 years, and that is just a very small snapshot of what this aquifer can deliver. The initial project will deliver an aftertax NPV of US$820 million and bottom quartile operating costs at around $3,656 per tonne” Chris Doornbos, E3 Metals president and CEO

from the brine waters in

Being in the heart of a mature

Alberta and produce lithium

and sophisticated oil industry


brings myriad benefits to E3 Metals, including a pre-

E3’s proprietary technology

existing regulatory framework

enables them to concentrate

for natural resource

and purify in a single step,

development, an industry-

leading to a much simpler and

friendly government keen

cleaner product. As a result, it

to diversify and access to an

can be sold directly to battery

underutilised workforce, along

manufacturers and original

with a high-quality selection of

equipment manufacturers

service companies.

(OEMs) in North America’s growing EV sector, where the

“All of the expertise we need

value of a local and low carbon

to build the Clearwater Project

footprint source of high purity

is here locally. Resource

lithium hydroxide would

development has well-

provide huge incentives to

developed social licence in the


area and a permitting process that routinely approves activities similar to E3’s.


Through the relationships

take a larger global position

aquifer can deliver. The initial

and foundational groundwork

as the resource is open for

project will deliver an after-

laid out so far, our project has


tax NPV of US$820 million

been significantly de-risked as

and bottom quartile operating

we continue to pave the path

In November 2020, E3 Metals

costs at around $3,656 per

toward to production.”

published its preliminary

tonne,” says Doornbos.

A globally significant resource

economic assessment (PEA) for the Clearwater resource.

“The low opex estimate

The thorough study was

is important for us to

based on extensive data on

remain resilient with price

The flagship Clearwater

the Leduc aquifer, which was

fluctuations, but it also helps

Project is currently comprised

first discovered in 1947 by

us generate a lot of revenue

of a 7.0 million tonnes lithium


from the project,” he adds.

carbonate equivalent (LCE)

E3 Metals believes that the

inferred mineral resource

“The PEA outlined a 20,000

Clearwater Project can scale

– making it approximately

tonnes per year lithium

up from the initial 20,000

the seventh largest lithium

hydroxide operation for 20

tonnes per year to 50,000

resource in the world right

years, and that is just a very

tonnes with relative ease for

now – with the potential to

small snapshot of what this

a 35-year total mine life at the

two other project areas (Rocky

a time, though, we are staying

expanded production rate.

and Exshaw) in the Leduc

focused on delivering 20,000

Reservoir that both hold the

tonnes by 2024 and will grow

The expansion plans don’t end

potential for 50,000 tonnes of

our production base from

there. E3 Metals also owns

production each. This would


equate to 150,000 tonnes over


a 35-year period, according to

Developing DLE


Doornbos is cognisant of the need to demonstrate a



MARKET CAPITALISATION US$75 million (as of January 29, 2021)


“Those are just the resources

working process flowsheet

we are developing. We also

for producing battery

have land that we haven’t

grade lithium hydroxide

worked on. There is significant

on a commercial scale. E3

expansion potential that few

Metals first produced lithium

other lithium projects can

hydroxide from the Leduc

match. The company’s goal is

brine in May 2019, using

to become a major supplier of

its DLE process that was

lithium hydroxide to a rapidly

developed in partnership

expanding market. One step at


with world-leading chemical

quickly and efficiently remove

conventional methods into

manufacturer Livent.

lithium from the brine without

high value lithium products.

the need for evaporation Consistent lab testing using

ponds, to produce a high

“We’re one of the few DLE

the in-house DLE technology

purity lithium concentrate

technology development

has shown that E3 Metals can

that can be processed using

companies that also owns its


Chris Doornbos, E3 Metals president and CEO

own resource, so we do not

production with higher

of the land area compared

have to shop for projects to

recoveries (at rates over 90%

to conventional evaporation

deploy the technology. The

according to latest testing),

projects or mining operations.”

goal for us is to produce our

no tailings and minimised

own lithium hydroxide with

freshwater usage. In fact, E3

The company plans to

our own technology, and that

Metals’ technology allows it to

produce an independent life

is what DLE gives us. It’s a

return brine to the reservoir,

cycle analysis (LCA) within

big piece of what we’ve done;

creating an environmentally

the next 12 months that will

having it 100%-owned by E3

friendly closed loop system.

outline a clear ESG strategy.

brings a lot of value to the company.”

For example: “By operating “We also have the ability to go

a gas-fired power plant, we

net-zero carbon emissions,

can capture the CO2 from

In comparison to pre-existing

not consume fresh water and

the exhaust gas and dispose

lithium brine processing

not generate any tailings. Our

of it in the waste stream

methods, DLE offers faster

project will also use only 3%

going back into the aquifer.

This is a process that has been perfected in Alberta,� Doornbos proclaims.

2021 and beyond As we enter the last week of January 2021, E3 Metals is about to cut the ribbon on its pilot development facility in Calgary. This is a huge step towards demonstrating a scaled down but commercially viable model of what the company can deliver. The company’s goal is to have a prototype running by around mid-year. The benefits for this will be two-fold, firstly to form the design basis for the field pilot, aimed to be under construction during the second half of 2021. Secondly, the company plans to use this prototype to test other brines to develop a potential new project pipeline. As E3 Metals arches towards a pre-feasibility study for the Clearwater Project, a CHRIS DOORNBOS, E3 METALS PRESIDENT AND CEO

smaller ticket item will be to


upgrade the current resource

emissions lithium product will

for lithium hydroxide move

to measured and indicated.

generate a lot of interest with a

very strongly. This is the

Without the need to conduct

battery manufacturer.”

perfect time to be bringing our

any further drilling on the

production on stream.

Leduc Reservoir, the resource

Doornbos adds: “We are

upgrade should be achievable

contemplating our options

“Supply does not move as

at a fairly minimal expense,

to bring in the right strategic

quickly as demand can move,

Doornbos says.

partner that would assist E3

so that generates a strong

in taking this project to the

market for our product and we

However, the key goal for 2021

next level. We want to work

are well timed and positioned

will be for E3 Metals to finalise

with a group that shares the

for our project to get into

its flowsheet development

same vision for the Clearwater

production. We believe this

and start producing lithium

Project and can help put

will allow the company to

hydroxide on a regular basis

this project into production

secure attractive contracts

from the concentrate it makes


for our initial production.

every day in the lab.

E3 Metals will then look to Having gone through the hard

expand production to meet

“That will be a big moment

yards at the project over the

market demand as it rapidly

for the company. We have

last four years, E3 Metals is

accelerates across the globe.”

made hydroxide before but

aiming to bring the initial

producing it at the scale we

Clearwater production online

want to this year means we can

in the mid-2020s, and the

start shipping it to potential

timing of market entrance

clients and customers in the

couldn’t be better according to

battery manufacturing space.


“It will be a significant step

“All the latest projections

for E3 when we start to have

suggest that EV demand will

players in the battery industry

steadily pick up as we reach

evaluating our product and

price parity for EVs on a mass

considering us as a potential

market basis, and they are

supplier. We believe our goal

expecting this will happen

of having a net-zero carbon

around 2024-25. At that point you should start to see demand

Published by Anderson Murray Media Ltd

To tell the resource market your story, contact: editorial@resourceglobalnetwork.com


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