Regina — If there’s one mineral that you probably have in your pocket right now that the whole world is looking for, it’s lithium. The lightest metal on the periodic table, lithium is the key component of lithium-ion and lithium-polymer rechargeable batteries due to its high energy density.
And now it looks like companies are looking for it in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan’s subsurface mineral Crown disposition public offering held on Dec. 17 raised $45,000 in revenue, bringing the total for the 2019-20 fiscal year to $55,000.
The press release from the Ministry of Energy and Resources stated that “subsurface minerals” are defined as all natural mineral salts — boron, calcium, lithium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bromine, chlorine, fluorine, iodine, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur, and their compounds, occurring more than 60 metres below the land surface. Potash is a potassium compound, and subsurface minerals dissolved in subsurface geological formation waters are commonly referred to as “brine minerals.”
Five subsurface mineral permit blocks totalling 7,630 hectares were posted. Sun Valley Land Ltd. picked up three permit blocks totalling 5,039 hectares for $29,001, while Prairie Lithium Corporation bid $16,123 for the two remaining permit blocks totalling 2,591 hectares.
The highest bid received in this offering was $19,001 from Sun Valley Land Ltd. for one of its three blocks. This 2,134 hectare permit is located 30 kilometres southeast of Weyburn and is prospective for brine minerals, such as lithium.
Faisal Sayeed, a geologist and director of technical services with the ministry spoke to Pipeline News on Dec. 19 about the sale.
“Lithium is an up and coming commodity for our province,” he said. “Lithium is a brine mineral, naturally occurring in a variety of geologic settings.”
In South America, one of the key sources of global lithium supplies, lithium is extracted from extremely salty lakes on the surface. If lithium is to be developed in Saskatchewan, it would be coming from brine underground. Sayeed noted that there are several sources of brine in Saskatchewan, including oil and gas wells and prairie evaporite (potash) production. Both have lithium as a dissolved solid.
“The idea is to extract lithium from the brine,” he said.
The next subsurface mineral public offering in Saskatchewan is scheduled for April 20, 2020.