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Company developing lithium project in central Alberta said industry potential is huge

A Calgary-based lithium developer poised to start operating a pilot plant near Olds said the industry’s potential is huge.

Chris Doornbos, President and CEO of E3 Lithium Ltd. believes that Western Canada will become a global leader in lithium production over the next several years.

The company has an estimated 24 million tons of lithium reserves, nearly half of Alberta’s 48 million tons, Doornbos said Thursday in a webinar for investors, stakeholders, government officials and the media.

Doornbos said the company is moving fast to start initial production as soon as possible and he predicts a bright future.

“We aim to be a global lithium producer at some point in the future as we scale this project up.”

Earlier, E3 announced that following significant progress over the past year, the Company expects to commission its $4-6 million lithium-ion exchange pilot plant in the third quarter of this year. The company says it is in the process of finalizing final design, engineering and construction plans for the facility so it can commission the equipment this summer.

“The pilot plant will test the Li-IX technology for direct lithium extraction on a larger scale under real operating conditions,” says the company. “At pilot scale, the demonstration of Li-IX technology enables significant de-risking of the commercial design and is a critical step in unlocking the value of E3’s 24.3 million tonnes of Inferred Lithium Resources.”

Last summer, E3 Lithium Ltd. Alberta’s first brine production wells and acquired an additional existing well to evaluate lithium potential. Three test wells developed the Leduc Aquifer, which runs 2.5km below surface from Calgary to Edmonton, in the Torrington-Olds area.

Results showed high – and important for production purposes – consistent lithium values ​​throughout the aquifer. E3 Lithium has developed a process to remove lithium from brine and refine it to an ultra-pure quality suitable for batteries.

E3 Lithium has already applied for the necessary licenses with the Alberta Energy Regulator, which is expected to be approved by the summer.

“The pilot plant is an important milestone for the company and we are very pleased with the progress we have made in construction and operations this year,” Doornbos said in a statement. “The field demonstration of Li-IX extraction technology significantly advances the Company to bring battery grade lithium to market; It is the paradigm shift required for E3 to move towards our lithium plant design and eventually production.”

The pilot plant will consist of two main parts, the company says. The first part includes the equipment to remove the Leduc brine water from the aquifer and perform the necessary pre-treatment required for the Li-IX extraction process.

The second part is the process equipment that houses the ion exchange media that manages the extraction of the lithium from the Leduc brine and produces the concentrated lithium liquor. The pilot project is designed to test multiple lithium extraction systems to define the optimal commercial design.

E3 will continue to provide updates on its field pilot throughout 2023. It was funded in part by a $1.8 million grant from Alberta Innovates and the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund, which can reimburse up to one-third of the cost of the pilot plant.

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