​MGX Minerals moves step closer to lithium extraction from oilfield wastewater

MGX Minerals Inc.’s engineering partner PurLucid Treatment Solutions has partially commissioned a commercial scale NFLi5 lithium recovery system at its new manufacturing facility in Calgary.

The pre-treatment nanoflotation and nanofiltration system is now operational with all electrical, control and pump systems in the first two stages of the process operational under constant flow, MGX said in a statement.

Additional mineral extraction nanofiltration components are expected to be brought online sequentially over the upcoming weeks and the system will be ready for deployment in early 2018. The NFLi5 system is capable of processing 750 bbls (120 cubic metres) of brine per day.

The system utilizes patented nanoflotation technology to purify wastewater or natural brine while extracting lithium and other minerals using the patent-pending rapid mineral recovery process jointly developed by Vancouver-based MGX and PurLucid and exclusively licensed globally to MGX.

PurLucid continues to conduct bulk sample testing from various MGX lithium target sites throughout North America. A recent sample of brine wastewater originating from Utah was concentrated from 600 mg/L Li to 3,300 mg/L Li to produce a clean lithium chloride concentrate of 19,900 mg/L with undetectable levels of magnesium. This sample is being shipped for off-take evaluation. Additionally, brine samples from two Petrolithium projects in Alberta were successfully processed through the Li-1 pilot plant system.

PurLucid has signed a contract with the oilfield operator on one project and negotiations are underway with the other. The signed contract is based on a per cubic metre processing fee valued up to $2 million annually of wastewater processing revenue in addition to any value from lithium and other minerals extracted, MGX said.

Lithium prices have surged to record highs amid forecasts for a rapid uptake in electric vehicles to be powered by lithium-ion batteries. Prices rose to $14,000 a metric tonne in South America in November, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, with estimated annual demand growth of about 15 per cent going forward.

MGX currently owns a 34 per cent interest in PurLucid and has the right to acquire 100 per cent through successive future investments. The company said it expects to increase its ownership to 45 per cent shortly.