Initial metallurgical test work on E3 Metals Corp.’s proprietary lithium extraction technology produced a lithium concentrate of up to 1,206 milligrams per litre, a concentration factor of 16 times, the Calgary-based company said.
The process was also successful in removing up to 99 per cent reduction in the critical metal impurities while demonstrating lithium recoveries as high as 81 per cent.
The testing was completed by the University of Alberta and independently reviewed by CIMIC Group’s mineral processing company, Sedgman Canada Limited.
The results are a significant step forward for the development of E3 Metals Alberta Lithium Project, Chris Doornbos, E3 Metals CEO, said in a statement.
“Development of a simple and effective brine concentration process, which significantly reduces impurities, positions us to begin work on proving the economic and technical viability of the company’s large Alberta petro-lithium resource. With continued optimization of the sorbent, we are aiming to achieve enhanced recoveries and higher concentration factors. We are working aggressively towards the next steps required to advance extraction technology for our Alberta Petro-Lithium Project,” he said.
E3 Metals conducted six bench scale metallurgical tests of its concentration technology on lithium enriched Leduc Formation water (raw brine) from the Exshaw West Project Area. The entire concentration process was achieved in less than three hours. The company expects to file the related NI 43-101 technical report within the next four weeks.
Building on the results, E3 Metals said it will work to optimize and scale-up its concentration technology to further improve the lithium concentration and recovery performance. The concentration technology will form the first of two main extraction steps in the company’s lithium production process.
The company, in collaboration with the University of Alberta, is now in the process of filing provisional patents to protect the intellectual property associated with its concentration technology.
To date, E3 Metals has defined a combined inferred resource of 6.7 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) within three resource areas comprising 34 per cent of its Alberta permit holdings.
With high porosity and permeability, the Leduc Formation has demonstrated the ability to deliver high volumes of hot (70 to 100 degrees Celsius) brine. With extensive oil and gas infrastructure – including disposal wells, production sites and pipelines – and a mature regulatory regime, Alberta is an attractive jurisdiction for petro-lithium development, the company said.
The six tests produced a range of results for lithium recovery, lithium concentration and reduction in critical ions (impurities) concentrations. Lithium recovery results ranged from 66 per cent up to a maximum of 81 per cent, while lithium concentration ranged from 13 to 16 times. A significant reduction of critical impurities was achieved, averaging greater than 99 per cent.
While the project is still at a concept level, the resulting concentrate has the potential of being further processed into lithium carbonate and/or lithium hydroxide, E3 Metals said. Further development of its ion exchange technology will continue at the U of A to optimize the sorbent synthesis and extraction testing. The goal is to achieve enhanced recoveries and an increase in the concentration factor of lithium through the process while maintaining the high levels of impurity reduction, the company said.