E3 Lithium plugs ‘third-party’ DLE into feasibility study

Staff reporter

The proponent of a significant new lithium brine project in Alberta, Canada, says its evaluation of five direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies has indicated it should move forward with a “third party” process rather than its own proprietary offering.

“Given that discussions and negotiations are ongoing the names and results of the DLE providers that [E3 Lithium] has tested, as well as the technology it will use, remain confidential,” Toronto-listed E3 Lithium said this week.

E3 Lithium announced last June that US engineering firm Fluor would lead work on a pre-feasibility study (PFS) on its proposed Clearwater lithium project. The PFS is due to land in the second half of this year.

A November 2020 preliminary economic assessment outlined a circa-US$600 million project producing an average 20,000 tonnes per year of lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM) at all-in operating costs of US$3656 per tonne LHM, over 20 years. Early work suggested E3 Lithium’s DLE process could produce a highly concentrated lithium solution with a low level of impurities to feed into a lithium production process.

The company began operating a pilot plant in central Alberta last year to assess different DLE technologies at scale using brines from its estimated 16 million tonne lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) Clearwater measured and indicated resource.

“Since the company was founded in 2016 the number and maturity of DLE technologies available have increased significantly,” E3 Lithium CEO Chris Doornbos said.

“The team has completed a significant amount of engineering and process design work to enable the company to make this decision that we believe will allow us to move smoothly through the next phases of engineering towards commercial operations.

“Selecting third party technology allows us to secure a system that is at an advanced stage of commercial readiness, and provides a viable path towards securing supply agreements and project financing for our first commercial facility.”

Toronto-listed E3 Lithium’s share price is down circa-20% so far in 2024, capitalising the company at about C$129 million.


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