The world is moving forward with the development of lower-carbon fuel technologies at a lightening pace. As rechargeable batteries take on a growing share of the transportation power supply, the development of lithium resources as necessary components of the batteries is expected to continue at an exponential rate.
Lithium’s growing importance in the energy sector is due to its use as a primary component of lithium-ion batteries to stabilize the rapid development of alternatives to hydrocarbons in industrial and consumer-level energy production, storage and use.
Initial work on lithium batteries began in the early 20th century with the first commercially available non-rechargeable lithium-ion batteries becoming available in the early 1970’s. Consumer-level acceptance of the technology in transportation took almost another 30 years to come to a level that triggered auto makers to begin producing hybrid and electric vehicles for the market.
Recently, most global lithium supply went to producing glass, ceramics, alloys and polymers, but demand for lithium for use in batteries has exploded. According to McKinsey, demand for lithium in the automotive sector will soar from approximately 500,000 metric tonnes in 2021 to somewhere between 3 and 4 million metric tonnes by 2030. While lithium-ion batteries will be in high demand in the automotive and transportation sector, there will be stiff competition for that supply from industries ranging from power generation and storage to consumer electronics and home goods. The increase in lithium demand, currently driven primarily by the rapidly-expanding electric vehicle market has already has had an eye-popping impact on lithium pricing. By March of 2022 both lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide prices had surged almost 550% to $75,000 and $65,000 USD per metric tonne respectively.
The increased demands for lithium for products including for transportation, grid-scale and decentralized energy storage, manufacturing, electronics, and consumer goods has contributed to lithium receiving significant attention as part of Canada’s Critical Mineral Strategy.
In Canada, while hard-rock mining for lithium occurred in Quebec (with plans to restart operations currently underway), greater production is being undertaken with greener methods such as lithium brine extraction. Brine production of lithium in Canada can occur from low-impact brine extraction wells. These brines are saline-formation waters in subsurface reservoirs. Lithium brine development is an excellent opportunity to leverage geothermal resources or to revitalize depleted oil and gas developments.
These developments are also a part of Canada’s Critical Minerals Strategy.
In addition to hard-rock lithium deposits in Central Canada, the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, with its large number of brine-rich oil and gas reservoirs, represents some of the larger opportunities for brine-sourced lithium in the world. Like so many other unconventional energy resource development and production, the challenge has been the adaptation and scalability of technology that would allow economic and time-efficient extraction of the lithium from the brines. Direct Lithium Extraction Technologies (DLE) for this valuable resource are evolving quickly and companies are securing their mineral rights and working towards pilot and commercial projects. Where brines had once been valued for their ability to prolong production in depleted oil wells, subsurface brines can be tapped for their lithium for use in energy storage to support a move towards less carbon-intensive fuels.
While Canada has very low levels of domestic lithium production, there is huge potential for companies looking to invest in a resource that will certainly expand exponentially for the foreseeable future.
Canada has been a leader in petroleum resource development for decades. With the country’s ongoing political and economic transitions towards greener energy and innovation, the energy sector has an opportunity to advance lithium developments. Canada has an international advantage with:
- extensive resource data on lithium-brine reservoirs;
- existing oil and gas infrastructure allowing us to access and optimize lithium extraction; and
- a highly-skilled energy service sector.
- Additionally, as a designated critical mineral, Canadians are being encouraged by governments to develop this sector essentially from the ground up. These factors are key foundation blocks that can facilitate a transition to greener energy development in Canada.
GLJ has been working with Canadian and international clients for several years on these initiatives, providing insight from early-stage scoping to development and production plans. We are leveraging our extensive geologic evaluation and reservoir experience to create a lithium concentration database. This database includes data from Western Canadian and global resource basins.
As leaders in global energy consulting, GLJ has become a trusted partner for its clients on conventional, unconventional, and evolving energy. GLJ’s comprehensive, and credible resource evaluation data in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin and internationally gives us competitive insights into the potential for lithium brine opportunities across the region. For companies looking at potentially adding lithium to their portfolio of assets and projects, GLJ can help you identify those strategic opportunities and work with you to help your decision-making process. Our advanced static and dynamic modeling capabilities, led by our dedicated lithium team of experts, can support you for the lifecycle of your project—from scoping and development to production.
- Feasibility Studies
- Technology Reviews
- Regulatory Reviews and Education
- Geologic Characterization
- Reservoir Modeling
- Development Plans
- Lithium Resources and Reserves Estimates
- Economic modeling
- NI 43-101 Reporting and Qualified Person Sign-off
- JORC Reporting and Competent Person Sign-off
If you and your company are considering ways to capitalize on the new lustre of lithium, get in touch with our dedicated lithium team to find out how GLJ can support your business: email@example.com