Electricity: our modern world relies on it. Yet, even in power cuts, when we’re at home, we’re barely affected like we used to be. Why? We’re surrounded by devices powered by batteries. From household items to renewable power stations and electric vehicles, lithium is at the heart of much that supports and surrounds us. We took a look at E3 Metals Corp to see how this resource and technology company approaches and answers this never-ending need, and manages to do so with incredibly little impact on its environment.
Like many great resource companies, E3 Metals Corp has its home in Canada, Alberta, and the company’s goal is the efficient and clean extraction of lithium. The main focus for these efforts is the company’s local Clearwater Project, which has an outlined Net Present Value of USD $820 million and an Internal Rate of Return of 27% (after tax). However, this is but one of three resources for the company, all of which appear to be rich with potential. These three resources are known as Clearwater, as mentioned, Rocky and Exshaw: between the three areas, E3 possesses an estimated collective resource of over 7 million tonnes of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE). This is extremely competitive, and still only accounts for a third of the company’s full permit area in south-central Alberta! Aka, they could well be sitting on even more.
Clearwater alone is able to produce an average of 20,000 tonnes a year, with the project estimated to have a lifespan of around 20 years. One of the reasons it has proven so fruitful is thanks to the Leduc Formation – a heavily dolomitized ancient reef complex that runs for 2km under Clearwater’s surface. E3’s exploration and study of the area was assisted by data found by the wells drilled here when the land was tapped for oil. This 70-year history with oil means that E3 was able to compare these historic results with modern-day findings, leading to a detailed preliminary map of the well network design. Not only is this formation already well-understood, it has also demonstrated highly encouraging flow rates and deliverability over this time. In other words, it is very opportunistic for E3 to hold permits in this area.
Despite all of this, a strong slate of resource areas is only half of what makes E3 Metals such a notable player in the lithium sector. Its other strength, and arguably its most impressive, is its technology. When it comes to the handling of finite resources – especially resources this essential for our way of life – the most interesting question is that of efficiency. This is particularly true in this case, because E3 Metals have a fantastic record for it. The company uses its own Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology, which has a recovery rate of over 90% and reduces impurities by over 99%! This last figure in particular is staggering. Having developed and perfected the technology itself, E3 then scaled this up to a level that could support commercial output, thus being in a strong position to deliver quality lithium to the market in an impactful quantity.
Needless to say, the lithium that E3 produces is high-purity, battery-grade. But how are such high purity and extraction rates achieved? As the experts put it – aka, E3 Metals themselves: “E3’s DLE ion-exchange technology utilizes a proprietary sorbent designed to be highly selective towards lithium ions. It quickly and efficiently reduces large volumes of low-grade brine into a high-grade lithium concentrate in one step, simultaneously removing nearly all impurities.”
What does this mean? The Clearwater Project is one area from which lithium can be extracted in the Leduc aquifer formation. This saline formation in the water contains both lithium and high levels of dissolved solids. The company uses sorbents that have a high affinity for lithium yet reject the unwanted solids, in order to separate this important resource from the rest and protect its purity. This convenient sorbent was manufactured through the company’s own lab facility.
The impact of this is huge: not only does it produce highly pure lithium, but it vastly reduces both the wait-time and the environmental impact of E3’s operations compared to most lithium producers. As the company explains, other lithium producers tend to favor one of two methods: either extracting lithium from still ponds gradually, as the water evaporates, or the highly disruptive process of lithium mining, which consumes energy and disturbs the earth as much as any other traditional mining endeavor.
In contrast, E3’s method neither disturbs the land with mining nor requires the large amounts of water disturbance in the first method, and it takes far less time. E3 Metals DLE process is low-energy, its land use utilizes only 3% of conventional lithium projects, and re-injects the lithium void brine back into the rock formation, thus removing nothing other than the lithium itself.
E3 continues to improve the company’s ESG benefits and states, “E3 Metals is committed to sustainable development that extends to all facets of our business. Our vision is to be a global leader in responsibly sourced lithium to fuel the global transition towards a brighter energy future. We aim to deliver new sources of lithium through innovation, emphasizing high standards in environmental stewardship, social engagement, and economic benefits for our stakeholders.”
Many companies talk the CSR and sustainability talk, but fewer manage to walk the walk, especially to such a remarkable and game-changing degree within their industry. E3 Metals’ developments have created a technology that could clean up, speed up and revolutionize the lithium sector. With this being the case, it is easy to believe the company’s statement of values and integrity – something that one cannot always be sure of, but in this case, is clearly reflected in the conscientious and responsible way that E3 has developed and approached its operations:
“Our core values drive how we approach our work at E3 Metals and set the tone from the inside out. We are determined to achieve the highest possible standards through our actions and conduct. Our approach promotes a strong culture of corporate responsibility that empowers our people to support our local communities, nurture our environment, and deepen our stakeholder relationships in order to create tangible and long-lasting benefits for our future.”
Any venture that advances the quest for clean energy as dramatically as this is worth everyone’s notice, in our opinion. The more we see, in speaking with innovators like E3, the more confident we become that it is possible to approach and maintain our world-wide industrial existence in a cleaner, better way. The methods are out there – now it just takes daring and forward-thinking companies like E3 Metals and their investors to make this change become the norm.