Powering the Electrical Revolution

Lithium is an element in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries. It is it the lightest of all metals and due to its high electrochemical potential it is a valuable component of high energy density rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Deemed a critical mineral by governments, sources of lithium form a key consideration in the transition to a low carbon economy and the adoption of electric vehicles. The two main conventional sources of lithium are brines and hard rock mining of granitic pegmatites. Shallow aquifer brines have been historically developed utilizing evaporation ponds (salars) which have a significant environmental impact, and an extended evaporation period which limits production.  Hard rock mining is a carbon intensive process involving open pit mining which has significant environmental and social impacts.

Our suite of services supports the evaluation and implementation of lithium brine projects – from geothermal brine, oilfield brine, or other sources of subsurface brines. We assist both operators and external stakeholders such as regulators and investors by providing independent analysis and expertise including, but not limited to:

  • Prospect generation
  • Geologic characterization & modeling
  • Fluid sampling, analysis and verification
  • Mineral resources and reserves estimation
  • Reservoir modelling and simulation
  • Deliverability calculations and production forecasting
  • Field development planning
  • Feasibility studies
  • Market assessment
  • Regulatory reviews
  • Extraction process selection
  • Economic modelling
  • NI 43-101 reporting and Qualified Person sign-off
  • JORC reporting and Competent Person sign-off

Emerging technologies such as DLE (Direct Lithium Extraction) have opened opportunities for lithium brine extraction from deeper subsurface reservoirs, which can utilize existing oil and gas wells, geothermal developments, or other subsurface brine sources in a more economic and environmentally sustainable way.  These new extraction technologies have opened the production of lithium to many more countries than are producing today, enabling a more global supply chain, enhancing the transition to a circular economy, and securing greater supply of lithium for battery production. Recent advancements in DLE technology have facilitated the upgrading and processing capabilities from raw lithium to lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) and lithium hydroxide (LiOH), which are the base elements required for input to high quality battery manufacturing and form the industry standards for pricing and trading.

Lithium does not occur freely as it is a highly reactive element. In order to extract it from oilfield brines, companies must use extraction technology to selectively adsorb lithium particles in order to accumulate economic quantities.

There are 3 main families when it comes to DLE technologies:

  1. Adsorption
  2. Ion-Exchange
  3. Solvent Extraction

Lithium brines hold significant opportunities to capitalize on green energy from geothermal heat and electricity production while extracting lithium prior to re-injecting the brine into deep aquifers. Coproduction of lithium and geothermal energy offers the unique combination of broadening the green incentives available for a project.

Schematic overview on lithium extraction from geothermal brine

This photo is of a geothermal power plant in the Rhine Valley of Germany, as an example of potential for geothermal lithium production. This facility is currently the site of a lithium extraction pilot for Vulcan Energy Resources.

Lithium can be extracted from brines that are co-produced with oil and gas.  Many oil and gas reservoirs have extensive brine water volumes that have sufficient lithium concentrations for extraction with DLE processes.

As a leader in responsible petroleum development for decades, Canada has an international advantage with:

  • extensive resource data on oil and gas reservoirs that could be prospective for lithium production
  • leverage existing power infrastructure for lithium production in areas of oil and gas operations
  • deep understanding of the geology and reservoir characteristics to understand the dynamic modeling for lithium production
  • a highly-skilled energy service sector

Get in touch with the GLJ team.