Canada

Clearwater Project

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Categories

Overview

Mine TypeIn-Situ
StagePreliminary Economic Assessment
Commodities
  • Lithium
Mining Method
  • Brine mining
Mine Life20 years (as of Jan 1, 2021)
ShapshotObjectives for 2023:
- Upgrade resource to Indicated & Measured;
- Build and operate fieldbased pilot project;
- Complete Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS);
- Produce LHM samples for potential offtake partners.

Alberta Lithium Project is subdivided into 6 Sub-Project areas: Clearwater, Rocky, Exshaw, Drumheller, Sunbreaker and Meadowbrook-Rimbey. PEA on Clearwater Project outlines a USD $820 Million Net Present Value (NPV8%) after tax, with a pre-tax value of USD $1.1 Billion (NPV8%). The project’s Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is 27% after-tax and 32% pre-tax.

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnership
E3 Lithium Ltd. 100 % Indirect
The Alberta Lithium Project consists of 80 Metallic and Industrial Mineral Permits (the Permit Area) that cover the Leduc aquifer in Southern Alberta. All permits are held 100% by 1975293 Alberta Ltd (Alberta Co), a wholly owned subsidiary of E3 Metals Corp.

Deposit type

  • Brine

Summary:

The Clearwater area covers a portion of the Wimborne-Bashaw complex to the east of the Meadowbrook Rimbey trend.

Deposit Types
Lithium brine deposits are accumulations of saline groundwater that are enriched in dissolved lithium and other elements. All presently producing lithium brine deposits are referred to as sa lars and share a number of first-order characteristics: (1) arid climate; (2) closed basin contained in a playa or salar; (3) tectonically driven subsidence; (4) associated igneous or geothermal activity; (5) suitable lithium source-rocks; (6) one or more adequate aquifers; and (7) sufficient time to concentrate a brine (Bradley et al., 2013). However, according to Eccles and Berhane (2011) “The source of lithium in oil-field waters remains subject to debate. Most explanations generally conform with models proposed for Li-rich brine solutions that include recycling of earlier deposits/salars, mixing with pre-existing subsurface brines, weathering of volcanic and/or basement rocks, and mobilizing fluids associated with hydrothermal volcanic activity (e.g., Garret, 2004). However, none of these hypotheses has identified the ultimate source for the anomalous values of Li in oil-field waters”.

In a comprehensive investigation of Li-isotope and elemental data from Li-rich oil-field brines in Israel, Chan et al. (2002) suggested that these brines evolved from seawater through a process of mineral reactions, evaporation and dilution. In this case, brines that were isotopically lighter than seawater were associated with lithium mobilized from sediment. Huff (2016; 2019) suggests that Li-brine in the Nisku and Leduc formations are the result of “preferential dissolution of Li-enriched late-stage evaporite minerals, likely from the middle Devonian Prairie Evaporite Formation, into evapo-concentrated late Devonian seawater”, followed by downward brine migration into the Devonian Winnipegosis Formation and westward migration caused by Jurassic tilting. Finally, during the Laramide tectonics, the brine was diluted by meteoric water driven into the Devonian of the southwestern Alberta Basin by hydraulic gradients.

It has also been theorized that the source of lithium enriched brines is associated with the magnesium-rich fluids responsible for pervasive dolomitization in the Leduc Formation. Stacey (2000) proposes these deep basinal brines migrated from the Prairie Evaporite into regional aquifers and were emplaced in part via large faults. Alternatively, the “reflux” dolomitization model proposed by Potma et. al. (2001), in whichevapo-concentrated Nisku-aged fluids are responsible for wide-spread dolomitization across the Leduc in Bashaw and Meadowbrook Rimbey, would suggest the lithium is potentially sourced from the later Devonian Nisku sea.

Lithium brines associated with oil wells have been known for some time, but are typically lower in grade when compared to the major lithium deposits of the world; Salar de Atacama, Chile (site of production facilities of the two major producers Albemarle and SQM), Salar de Hombre Muerto in Argentina (home of the third major producer FMC) and Clayton Valley, USA (Owned by Albemarle, and the only lithium production facility in North America). These existing sites use surface evaporation pools as part of the lithium concentration process. The recent advent of new dissolved metal recovery technologies and methods has made lower grade brines economically viable.

Mineralization
The potential for lithium-enriched brine in the Devonian petroleum system of Alberta was initially identified by Hitchon et al. (1995). Potential aquifers were located in reef complexes of the Woodbend and Winterburn groups. Subsequent work by Eccles and Jean (2010), Huff et al. (2011, 2012) and Huff (2016) confirmed the presence of elevated Li (e.g., >75 mg/L Li) in aquifers associated with the Devonian reef complexes.

The main lithium accumulations in E3 Metals’ properties occur within brines contained within dolomitized reefs of Devonian Leduc age, with a secondary accumulation occurring at a higher elevation in the biostromal development in the Nisku Formation of the Devonian Winterburn Group. Consequently, Li-brine mineralization in the Project area consists of Li-enriched Na-Ca brines that are hosted in porous and permeable aquifers associated with the Devonian carbonate reef complexes.

Li-brine wastewater is associated with oil and gas production. The Devonian petroleum system region represents a mature petroleum field and today, most, if not all of the wells produce far more water than petroleum products. Many of the wells in this area in their early history started out at hundreds to thousands of barrels per day of petroleum products and required little active pumping to extract. However, at present most of the wells produce excessive amounts of formation water in comparison to petroleum products. Formation water production in the CCRA averaged approximately 1,600 m3/day over the last 5 years (AccumapTM, 2020).

Reserves

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Mining Methods

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Comminution

Crushers and Mills

Milling equipment has not been reported.

Processing

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Production

CommodityUnitsAvg. AnnualLOM
Lithium kt 20400
All production numbers are expressed as hydroxide.

Operational metrics

Metrics
Daily brine extraction 0000000
* According to 2021 study.

Production Costs

CommodityUnitsAverage
Cash costs LiOH-H2O USD 0000
Assumed price LiOH-H2O USD 00000
* According to 2021 study / presentation.

Project Costs

MetricsUnitsLOM Total
Initial CapEx $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Sustaining CapEx $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Total CapEx $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Pre-tax NPV @ 8% $M USD  ......  Subscribe
After-tax NPV @ 8% $M USD  ......  Subscribe
Pre-tax IRR, %  ......  Subscribe
After-tax IRR, %  ......  Subscribe
Pre-tax payback period, years  ......  Subscribe
After-tax payback period, years  ......  Subscribe

Heavy Mobile Equipment

Fleet data has not been reported.

Personnel

Mine Management

Source Source
Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Sep 17, 2021
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Dec 11, 2023
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Dec 11, 2023
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Dec 11, 2023

EmployeesYear
Subscription required 2021

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