E3 Metals Corp. (TSXV:ETMC) has developed a new process for that old brine source of lithium metal
Bob Moriarty | April 5, 2021 | SmallCapPower: It’s probably worth mentioning that copper, lithium and nickel have been on a tear lately due to the perceived new demand for electric vehicles. Personally, I think people are missing the forest for all the trees in the way. To make solar a real source of green energy, you either need to figure out how to have more sunlight or how to store the energy for when there is no sunlight. When batteries get cheap enough to pop into the solar market, demand for the green metals is really going to soar.
(The following is an article originally published on 321gold.com on March 31, 2021)
But here and now investors want copper and lithium.
Most lithium projects are similar to that of any other hard rock minerals, they take a lot of time, are hard to permit and are hardly scalier. The old standard process of producing lithium was literally to pump brine to the surface in a large flat pond and let the sun evaporate it. That was a slow process that also required additional processing.
E3 Metals Corp. (TSXV:ETMC) has developed a new process for that old brine source of lithium metal. E3 treats the brine coming from subsurface reservoirs in a way similar to that of pumping oil. E3 pumps the brine to a surface facility, runs it through a one hour process of ion exchange to extract a high purity concentrate and pumps the now lithium free brine back into the reservoir.
The process is highly scalier; most of the cost is in the upfront cost of the wells and a recovery plant. The actual operating cost is not high in comparison to the alternative process of hard rock mining. In comparison to the land disruption of either hard rock mining or brine fields, the E3 process uses about 3% of the land. It’s environmentally friendly, can be scaled easily, provides a high value concentrate and we have lots of data from oil fields as to the lithium content of the brines in those areas.
E3 has a 7 million tonne lithium resource and is the 7th largest resource in the world. The company has raised $14.5 million to move forward from operation of a small test plant in Calgary to a full pilot plant on site over the reservoir in Alberta.
The stock has been on a wild ride both up and down as investors guess what the right price for the company should be. Going from $.30 last September, the shares shot up to a high of $5.37 for a 1700% advance to February before collapsing 50% in a correction to today.
With anything to do with the production of oil and natural gas, we have a lot of historical information. In the oil business, operators talk about the “water cut” rate that is shorthand for how much water is pumped out with a barrel of oil. In some fields there can be ten barrels of water for every barrel of oil. No one ever mentions it but all that water is brine, salt water. And it contains a lot of lithium. We have data from thousands of oil fields and in the future E3 can expand by making a cookie cutter of their plant and popping it onto fields with reservoirs containing high lithium content.
In my opinion E3 is on to something great. I didn’t know about them when they were $.30 a share or I would have been buying and frankly I hate buying into a stock when it has gone up 900% so I don’t own it.
E3 did a PEA and it showed a 27% IRR after tax with a $600 million capex and a $USD $820 million NPV. The company has plans for an initial 20,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide a year and will eventually expand to 150,000 tonnes a year production.
E3 is an advertiser and as such I have to be biased. Do your own due diligence.
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