The first targeted lithium well in Saskatchewan’s history has been drilled by Prairie Lithium, and the province hails the event as an opportunity to diversify the local mining sector. The privately held company extracts lithium from Saskatchewan oilfield brines using a patent pending technology.
Prairie Lithium began using the technology in 2020 and built a pilot plant in Emerald Park, near Regina, Sask. It has successfully extracted 99.7% of the lithium present in the brine. This year, the company completed its first-ever dedicated lithium brine well, providing over 100 jobs.
Prairie Lithium calls its technology Plix, and extraction takes only minutes. Brine is passed through material that traps the lithium, and then it is eluted as lithium chloride. The solution can then be converted to lithium sulphate, lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide monohydrate or left as lithium chloride for sale. Once the lithium has been removed, brine is either recirculated or goes to disposal.
The process can be integrated into conventional production, and it is modular. That makes it both adaptable and scalable.
Prairie Lithium signed an agreement with DEEP Earth Energy Production to establish an area of mutual interest in the Williston Sedimentary Basin. Prairie Lithium acquires the subsurface mineral permits from the top of the Red River Formation down to the Precambrian. DEEP will retain the mineral rights above and below that area. The two companies plan to explore jointly the lithium potential across the 40 townships that make up their area of interest.
The Saskatchewan government’s growth plan supports the development of a lithium sector and extraction technologies The Saskatchewan Geological Survey began a subsurface brine sampling program in 2011, and the program has increased interest in lithium projects in the province.
“The support that we have received from the Saskatchewan Advantage Innovation Fund and Saskatchewan Petroleum Innovation Incentive have been critical to the development of our direct lithium extraction technology,” Prairie Lithium president and CEO Zach Maurer said.
That support included an R&D incentive, and transferable oil and gas royalty production tax credits for pilot-scale and commercial-scale plants.
Learn more about Saskatchewan’s lithium pioneer at www.PrairieLithium.ca.