ESTEVAN - The potential for lithium brine extraction in southeast Saskatchewan was the focus of a public engagement open house in Estevan last Tuesday.
Arizona Lithium held the event at the Affinity Place lobby. Representatives of the company were on hand to provide information and answer questions from the public. Multiple brief presentations were held.
Since the session took place at the same time as the annual city-wide registration at Affinity Place, they had a lot of people stop by to learn more.
Paul Lloyd, the managing director for Arizona Lithium Ltd., said they wanted to talk to the local community about its Prairie Project, which is a brine extraction process for lithium carbonite. The lithium would be used for vehicle batteries.
"There's a huge demand for lithium at the present time, with the electronic vehicle revolution and … storage of renewable energy," said Lloyd.
The Prairie Lithium project is currently in the pre-development stage. They are exploring an area west of Estevan and south of Weyburn.
"We are looking to employ people in this general area, and as we continue with the development and start to go into production, we'll be looking to employ a number of people with the production facility," said Lloyd.
The brine extraction process utilizes existing oil and gas infrastructure and works with local contractors.
Zach Maurer, an executive director with Arizona Lithium, said they would utilize a lot of service providers in Estevan, including service rigs and truck drivers.
"The same services that you would use to drill an oil well, are the services we use as well," said Maurer.
It would therefore employ a similar number of people as an oil battery site.
Lloyd said they have proven a resource of lithium that is a world standard. They know there is a very large amount present in the area, and there is a lot of data points in regards to that resource. Now he said they need to find the most efficient way to extract the lithium from the brine material.
"We are actively doing that, and we expect to see some very positive results in the next 12 months. A lot of that work is being done in Regina," said Lloyd.
Their work in Saskatchewan is focused on extracting lithium in this basin.
"If we can bring that to the market, in a market where there is a huge shortage of supply, in both the U.S. and Canada, we will do that, and we will do that as fast as we can," said Lloyd.
Arizona Lithium also has a project in Phoenix that is at the development stage.
Lloyd said he is very encouraged with the turnout. He is surprised that people have such a level of interest in the story, and most people who have dropped by seemed supportive.
People wanted to know if they plan to extract the lithium and the timeline for when they plan to start the process.
Last year Prairie Lithium announced it had acquired three additional wells from a Saskatchewan-based oil producer that were set to be abandoned due to the wells' limited oil production. Although the wells no longer have use for oil production, Prairie Lithium said they do provide the company with the opportunity to access the production and disposal formations required for its lithium operations.
The company has also entered a strategic partnership with Deep Earth Energy Production to exchange subsurface mineral permits and establish an area of mutual interest to explore future lithium opportunities.