The Canadian province of Alberta, currently the country’s top producer of petroleum, could soon be producing substantial quantities of lithium.
Alberta-based lithium developer E3 Lithium has announced the discovery of higher-than-expected lithium concentrations in the Nisku Aquifer through a new six-well sampling program conducted late in 2023.
E3 Lithium sampled brine in the Nisku from six well locations in its Clearwater Project Area, and found lithium concentrations as high as 87 mg/L. These are higher than concentrations found in historic Nisku samples, which were collected from oil and gas wells between 2017 and 2020, and outlined lithium grades up to 75 mg/L.
The Nisku brine samples were analyzed by a third-party certified laboratory, following independently verified sample acquisition procedures that maintained a strict chain of custody, in accordance with Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum guidelines.
“Finding higher concentrations of lithium in the Nisku is a significant discovery,” said Chris Doornbos, President and CEO of E3 Lithium. “This opens the door to potentially produce from an additional aquifer to the Leduc in the future. The Nisku is well known in Alberta as a prolific oil producer and is similar to the Leduc in that respect. E3 Lithium has not completed a resource estimate in the Nisku, and if successful, would add additional resources to our already significant resource base from the Leduc.”
The Nisku is located above the Leduc Aquifer and stretches across E3 Lithium’s entire permit area where the company holds mineral rights, which include the rights to the lithium within the Nisku. Both aquifers have high porosity and permeability, which allows for high volume deliverability (i.e. high brine flow rates), that may support the production of commercial quantities of lithium.
The Nisku and Leduc Aquifers are confined aquifers, meaning they are not connected to the surface or any shallow, fresh, groundwater sources. The fluids in the aquifers are contained under pressure, which naturally assists with fluid production.
It is common for historic oil and gas production to co-mingle, which allows for the simultaneous production of the two reservoirs for hydrocarbons, and a similar scenario could be applicable to the production of lithium.
Source: E3 Lithium