Tag Archives: Direct Lithium Extraction

Firms partner on UK’s first direct lithium extraction plant for domestic supply of lithium

A milestone has been reached to deliver a domestic supply of lithium in the UK, with three companies from the north of England – Northern Lithium, Evove and Sheers – having signed an agreement aimed at delivering the UK’s first commercial-scale direct lithium extraction (DLE) plant that combines UK-developed technology, UK sourced lithium-bearing saline brines and UK process engineering expertise.

Successful industrial-scale production of battery-grade lithium from Northern Lithium’s Northern Pennine Orefield brines was achieved at Evove’s UK DLE Test Centre in August, and Northern Lithium is now targeting an initial commercial supply of lithium from its first planned production site at Ludwell Farm, Eastgate, County Durham in late 2026/early 2027. This follows the selection of Evove’s advanced DLE technology and process engineering expertise from Sheers. The three parties have now agreed to work exclusively towards the design and delivery of a commercial scale UK-manufactured DLE plant.

Success will allow Northern Lithium to roll out subsequent production sites with Evove DLE across a large area of the Northern Pennine Orefield, County Durham, where Northern Lithium has secured key long-term mineral and land rights, it says. Northern Lithium is targeting commercial production of up to 10,000 t/y of battery-grade lithium in the northeast within the next decade, to supply to UK gigafactories and the electric vehicle manufacturing industry.

The advantage of DLE with Evove lies in the ability to extract lithium at a high purity, according to the companies. In contrast to conventional approaches, the Evove system puts advanced membrane filtration technology at its core. This processes brines containing lithium very cleanly, reducing the energy, water and chemical footprint and improving the economics, the companies say.

Nick Pople, Managing Director of Northern Lithium, said: “We have come a long way in the last year having demonstrated the ability to locate and abstract saline brines present at relatively shallow depths within the granite of the Northern Pennine Orefield, County Durham, and confirmed the presence of potentially commercially-viable concentrations of lithium. We have also already successfully processed those brines at industrial scale with advanced DLE technology from Evove, producing battery-grade lithium carbonate. We are now, therefore, delighted to take the next development step and create this all-UK partnership with Evove and Sheers in a landmark project in County Durham to deliver a first commercial scale DLE plant within the next 3-4 years. Our ambition beyond that is to establish the North East as a key supply source for domestic lithium, not only providing a direct economic benefit to the local and regional economy, but also directly contributing to the UK government’s energy transition plans and targets to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Chris Wyres, CEO of Evove, said: “This partnership symbolises a really significant development in the UK, with highly advanced technology from the northwest of England paired with process engineering expertise from the northeast to produce lithium from saline brines in County Durham. We are delighted that Northern Lithium have made Evove their chosen DLE technology partner and that we can collaborate with our long-standing engineering partner Sheers to deliver what will be one of the world’s most advanced DLE lithium production plants.”

Sheers Managing Director, Roy Warren, added: “With Evove’s groundbreaking advanced membrane and DLE process, we have jointly developed a compact, versatile, adaptable modular layout that can be fully factory built and tested. The modular approach, which we specialise in, brings the advantage of high quality, reliability and repeatability, and drives down costs. The full automation of the plant brings down operation costs with minimal day-to-day supervision, accurate production quality control and remote monitoring for quick preventative maintenance response.”

Gradiant’s process water solutions to be used at SLB, Rio Tinto operations

Gradiant, a global solutions provider and developer for advanced water and wastewater treatment, has announced partnerships with SLB (formerly Schlumberger), Rio Tinto and an Australia-based global mining company to, it says, improve productivity and sustainability in the mining industry with a focus on reducing carbon and water footprints.

The projects are in the US and Western Australia for resource recovery of critical minerals and industrial process water.

Gradiant’s collaborations with SLB and the Australia-based global mining company target the recovery of valuable metals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt. The mining of these materials is highly complex and water intensive. Moreover, with increased market demand and environmental regulations, businesses must identify cost-effective and sustainable technologies. Gradiant’s technologies enable sustainable, efficient and economical water governance through end-to-end customised solutions, it says.

Gradiant’s work with SLB integrates Gradiant’s technologies to concentrate lithium solution with SLB’s direct lithium extraction (DLE) and production technology process – allowing reduced time-to-market and environmental footprint for lithium extraction. The solution enhances the impact of the sustainable lithium extraction process by enabling high levels of lithium concentration in a fraction of the time required by conventional methods while reducing carbon emissions, energy consumption and capital costs compared with thermal-based methods, the company says.

Back in October, Gradiant and Schlumberger entered into a partnership to introduce a key sustainable technology into the production process for battery-grade lithium compounds.

For Rio Tinto, Gradiant will deliver a new facility in Western Australia to replace ageing facilities by employing the company’s proprietary RO Infinity membrane technologies and SmartOps Digital AI into existing mining operations. Gradiant has introduced two chemical-free technologies into operations to minimise chemical consumption and waste discharge, it said.

Lastly, Gradiant’s RO Infinity and SmartOps technologies will concentrate complex wastewater from nickel and cobalt production at a new facility in Western Australia for a global mining company, resulting in up to 75% cost savings with lower carbon and water footprints compared with conventional technologies, it says.

Prakash Govindan, COO of Gradiant, said: “Mining is a uniquely complex industrial sector with challenges of remote locations, large volumes of waste, wide fluctuations in water quality and the high-value end-product that demands relentless design and operations efficiencies. The real opportunity for water technology in the mining industry is resource recovery in wastewater coupled with machine learning AI. We are excited to work with the world’s leading mining operators to enter a new era of sustainable resource recovery. This is made possible by Gradiant’s deep understanding of the complex chemistry that underlies the production processes, which is then operationalised by machine learning digital technology.”

Grounded Lithium to test Koch Technology Solutions DLE solution

Grounded Lithium Corp (GLC) has signed a lithium processing test work program agreement with Koch Technology Solutions (KTS) to determine the efficacy of KTS’s proprietary Li-Pro™ technology for direct lithium extraction (DLE) on brine from the company’s properties in Canada.

Under the agreement, GLC’s brine will be processed using KTS’s proprietary Li-Pro technology at a Koch Engineered Solutions (KES) location in Pickering, Ontario, Canada.

KTS is developing and leveraging synergistic technologies such as membrane filtration, ion exchange, evaporation, drying and more to provide an optimised DLE solution. KTS, Grounded Lithium says, has decades of experience in the development and transfer of advantaged technologies and will apply these capabilities working with GLC during this testing phase.

The selection of KTS for brine extraction testing and evaluation is in line with the company’s previous communications involving its engagement with Hatch Ltd and the process to screen a number of diverse potential DLE technologies. The selection of KTS, and a soon to be announced second candidate, stems from extensive and deliberate screening procedures conducted by Hatch and GLC’s internal expertise. The Koch agreement’s scope includes brine characterisation and pre-treatment, followed by scoping lithium loading, washing and elution testing.

The results from the agreement are expected to be completed in the next 6-8 weeks. Upon a review of these results, GLC plans to make a final selection of the optimum extraction technology which will form part of the preliminary economic assessment (PEA), expected to be filed by the end of the June quarter.

Gregg Smith, President & CEO of GLC, said: “GLC remains committed to our vision to build a commercial resource project by leveraging the technical expertise of those focused on extraction technology. We are delighted to be working with KTS to assess their Li-Pro process to determine if it supports our commerciality objective. Koch is a world-renowned company and we look forward to potentially partnering with entities such as Koch which provide scale, scope, expertise and credibility.”

Adam Sackett, KTS President, added: “We are thrilled to be selected as a potential lithium extraction solution for Grounded’s lithium operations. At KTS, we are committed to developing advantaged technologies and see the potential to apply our expertise to a growing global critical minerals industry for the benefit of our stakeholders. We look forward to conducting this evaluation and are confident our process will yield positive results leading to a mutually beneficial technology partnership.”

Watercycle Technologies to test direct lithium extraction solution at Cornish Lithium ops

UK-based Watercycle Technologies Ltd, a critical minerals and water filtration specialist, has been granted a £500,000 ($572,428) Innovate UK Smart Grant, in partnership with Cornish Lithium Ltd, to test its direct lithium extraction (‘DLE’) process in Cornwall, England.

Watercycle says its patented filtration process can selectively extract lithium from sub-surface waters, such as those found in the Southwest of the UK.

Given lithium’s essential role in battery technologies, the ability to obtain it from waters cost effectively and establish a domestic supply of the mineral is vital for the UK’s net-zero strategy, it says.

Under the terms of the agreement, Watercycle will deliver a containerised filtration system to extract lithium from Cornish Lithium’s project in Cornwall at a pilot scale. The project, which includes an environmental impact assessment, is anticipated to complete in October 2023.

Watercycle was spun out from the University of Manchester and is backed by business accelerator Aer Ventures. Smart, meanwhile, is Innovate UK’s responsive grant funding program.

Watercycle CEO, Dr Seb Leaper, said: “Having already proven that our proprietary filtration membranes and systems work in lab conditions, we are excited to be working with Cornish Lithium to demonstrate their scalability and accelerate the creation of a resilient, domestic lithium supply chain in the UK. This agreement marks the next step in our development strategy as we look at the commercialisation of our technology, which is capable of treating a wide range of water types and can deliver dramatic reductions in costs, carbon emissions and water consumption compared with current processes.”

Watercycle co-Founder and CTO, Dr Ahmed Abdelkarim, added: “It is great to be working with like-minded partners, Cornish Lithium and Innovate UK, which, like us, are focused on making a positive impact on the global transition through advancing innovative technologies.”

Lead Geochemist at Cornish Lithium, Dr Rebecca Paisley, said: “Working with Watercycle in the development of a pilot system aligns strongly with our research and innovation strategy, as well as our continued efforts to trial multiple DLE technologies at pilot scale in Cornwall to establish the most effective and responsible process flowsheet. We have a good relationship with the Watercycle team and look forward to progressing the project over the next 12 months.”

Schlumberger’s NeoLith Energy taps Gradiant water solutions for direct lithium extraction work

Schlumberger has entered into a partnership with Gradiant to introduce a key sustainable technology into the production process for battery-grade lithium compounds, the global water solutions provider says.

As part of Schlumberger’s NeoLith Energy direct lithium extraction (DLE) and production flowsheet, Gradiant technology is being used to concentrate the lithium solution and generate fresh water – a critical element in sustainable lithium production from brine.

“Proper natural resource management is essential in mineral production, and nowhere more so than in lithium,” Gavin Rennick, President of Schlumberger’s New Energy business, said. “The unprecedented growth in demand for this critical mineral requires high-quality production without compromising sustainability. The integration of Gradiant technology into our DLE flowsheet has been key in our strategy to improve sustainability in the global lithium production industry.”

NeoLith Energy’s DLE process is in sharp contrast to conventional evaporative methods of extracting lithium, with a significantly reduced groundwater and physical footprint, according to the company. It currently has a pilot plant in Clayton Valley, Nevada, where it is putting this to the test.

Gradiant’s new solution enhances the impact of the sustainable lithium extraction process, reducing time to-market and the environmental footprint of the product, the company says. The technology enables high levels of lithium concentration in a fraction of the time required by conventional methods, while also reducing carbon emissions, energy consumption, and capital costs when compared with thermal-based technologies. This technology integration can be applied into new lithium mineral extraction and production sites, opening opportunities to untapped lithium production regions, as well as existing lithium production operations.

The collaboration will enable the lithium industry to meet surging mineral demand with a previously unattainable level of water utilisation, by simultaneously lowering the consumption of fresh water and reducing wastewater, according to Gradiant.

“We are excited to be working with Schlumberger, with whom we are pioneering a new era of sustainable mineral resource recovery,” Prakash Govindan, COO of Gradiant, said. “This is made possible by Gradiant’s deep understanding of the complex chemistry that underlies the production processes, which is then operationalised by machine learning and digital technology.

“The sustainability impact of the integrated Schlumberger process, combined with Gradiant solutions, is a game changer for the lithium production market. This strategic partnership will enable the global expansion of Gradiant’s technology in this important industry.”

GeoCubed commissions Direct Lithium Extraction Pilot Plant in Cornwall

GeoCubed Ltd, a subsidiary of Cornish Lithium, has successfully commissioned and delivered the Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) Pilot Plant at Cornish Lithium’s Geothermal Waters Test Facility at United Downs in Cornwall, England.

The DLE Pilot Plant has been designed to process Cornish geothermal waters using DLE technologies and is the first time that a DLE system has become operational in the UK. The £4 million ($5.3 million) plant is being supported by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with £2.9 million from the UK Government’s Getting Building Fund.

The Pilot Plant was successfully commissioned at the end of March, on time and on budget.

Initially, the plant will test GeoLith SAS’ Li-Capt® DLE technology and process the 140 cu.m of deep geothermal water successfully obtained during GEL’s testing at its own United Downs site last year. This is expected to confirm that lithium can be produced in Cornwall from geothermal waters, and the Pilot Plant is expected to provide sufficient information to enable the design of a commercial lithium plant in the county.

During the course of 2022, different DLE technologies will be tested using the Pilot Plant with a view to establishing the preferred technology for future DLE plants in Cornwall. The Pilot Plant has been designed to be as flexible as possible and has been constructed in standard 6.1-m containers, enabling relocation to different sites to test new boreholes if required, the company said.

In addition to making pilot plant progress, Cornish Lithium announced that it had reached an agreement with Geothermal Engineering Limited (GEL) to acquire its 10% shareholding in GeoCubed. Following the completion of this transaction, GeoCubed will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cornish Lithium.

Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and Founder of Cornish Lithium, said: “We are delighted to announce that the United Downs DLE pilot plant has been successfully commissioned on time and on budget. This is testament to the hard work and commitment of the GeoCubed team and our technology partners at GeoLith. The Pilot Plant will be a great asset for the company as we work to establish the most appropriate DLE technology with which to process Cornish geothermal waters.”

GeoLith’s LiCapt Direct Lithium Extraction tech to be tested at GeoCubed’s United Downs project

GeoCubed, the joint venture between Cornish Lithium Ltd and Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL), has announced that GeoLith SAS has been selected to provide its Li-Capt® Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology for GeoCubed’s pilot plant at the United Downs project in Cornwall, England.

GeoLith’s DLE technology was selected for use in the pilot plant following a comprehensive tender process. The £4 million ($5.5 million) plant, being supported by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership with £2.9 million from the UK Government’s Getting Building Fund, is due to be commissioned at United Downs by the end of March 2022.

GeoLith says its Li-Capt DLE technology is compatible with groundwater temperatures of up to 70°C and is able to treat low concentration brines.

During the selection process, GeoCubed and Cornish Lithium engaged with over 10 providers of DLE technologies to evaluate their effectiveness on Cornish geothermal waters. Following the completion of these evaluations, five providers formally tendered their DLE technology for use in the plant. GeoLith’s technology was selected due to the quality of its tender, the effectiveness of its technology, and the company’s ability to design and deliver a pilot plant, Cornish Lithium said.

The pilot plant will be used to process the 140 cu.m of deep geothermal water successfully obtained during GEL’s recent testing at its United Downs site, which will confirm that lithium can be produced in Cornwall from geothermal brine, Cornish Lithium said. The plant is planned to have a nominal capacity of 10 t/y of lithium carbonate equivalent and the results of the pilot are expected to provide sufficient information to enable the design of a commercial lithium plant in Cornwall.

Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and Founder of Cornish Lithium and a Director of GeoCubed, said: “We are delighted to announce that GeoCubed has selected GeoLith’s Li-Capt technology for use in this pilot plant. We have established a good working relationship with the team at GeoLith, who provided a demonstration plant, along with their operations team, to enable us to test their DLE technology on our shallow geothermal water samples in June. This test work provided excellent results and we look forward to working with them.

“The pilot plant being constructed at Cornish Lithium’s test site at United Downs will enable us to demonstrate what modern, low-carbon mineral extraction looks like as well as demonstrating the viability of DLE technology on Cornish geothermal waters. By processing the 140 cu.m of geothermal waters collected from the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project, the pilot plant will provide important data to enable the design and construction of a commercial-scale plant as we work to establish this innovative minerals extraction industry for the benefit of Cornwall and the UK.”

Jean-Philippe Gibaud, CEO and Founder of GeoLith, said: “We are honoured to have been selected to provide our lithium filter technology as the ‘technological enabler’ of this clean lithium mining project, demonstrating the feasibility of sustainable mining for the future. We would like to congratulate GeoCubed on this first semi-industrial lithium brine production facility in Europe.”

Compass Minerals looks to leverage new lithium resource at Ogden site

Compass Minerals says it has identified a lithium brine resource of around 2.4 Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) at its active Ogden, Utah, solar evaporation site, and it was in the process of selecting an “extraction technology partner” that could help leverage the resource.

Included within the 2.4 Mt LCE resource was an indicated lithium resource within the ambient brine of the Great Salt Lake of 2.32 Mt of LCE within the ambient brine of the Great Salt Lake, which, Compass says, can be accessed through the company’s existing infrastructure.

For over 50 years, Compass Minerals’ Ogden facility has leveraged the high mineral concentrations within the ambient lake brine from the North Arm of the Great Salt Lake to produce sulphate of potash (SOP), salt and magnesium chloride products. The Ogden facility is the largest operation of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, according to the company.

Compass Minerals say it is now undertaking a strategic evaluation to assess development options available to service growing US domestic lithium market demand while maximising the long-term value of its lithium resource.

Kevin S Crutchfield, President and CEO, said: “We are aggressively evaluating multiple paths forward for this significant lithium brine resource to optimise shareholder value, in parallel with a reassessment of our current capital allocation strategy.

“In a market hungry for domestically-sourced lithium produced with minimal environmental impact, we believe a sustainable and readily available lithium resource like we have defined at our operations on the Great Salt Lake could be a true differentiator for our company. We look forward to communicating the results of our strategic evaluation and the selection of an extraction technology partner as we identify the most advantageous path forward for Compass Minerals.”

The resource assessment estimates total combined indicated and inferred lithium resources of approximately 127,000 t of LCE within the interstitial brine (IB) held in the accumulated salt-mass reservoirs at Compass Minerals’ Ogden solar evaporation site. This is on top of the circa-2.32 Mt LCE resource within the ambient brine of the Great Salt Lake.

After an 18-month assessment of multiple direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology providers, including two separate and ongoing pilot projects to demonstrate successful lithium separation from the company’s existing brine resource, Compass is now in the late stages of selecting a DLE technology partner.

The company is targeting an annual production capacity of around 20,000-25,000 t of LCE of battery-grade lithium, with up to 65% of the future production derived from brine that has already been extracted from the Great Salt Lake and in varying stages of concentration within the company’s existing ponds.

“Lithium concentrations within the ambient brine of the North Arm of the Great Salt Lake range from 55 to 60 parts per million (ppm), while concentrations in the company’s pond-derived magnesium chloride product reach up to 1,000 to 1,600 ppm after three years in the solar evaporation process,” Compass explained. “The lithium concentration in the IB ranges from 205 to 318 ppm. As such, the company anticipates being well-positioned to serve the widely forecasted increase in domestic market demand for lithium.”

In addition, the company is engaged in third-party testing of conversion options to battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

By leveraging existing operational infrastructure, permits and pond processes at its Ogden facility, Compass believes it is uniquely positioned to capture the now-defined lithium resource with nominal incremental impact to the beds and waters of the Great Salt Lake. It has contracted Minviro Ltd to perform a formal life cycle assessment (LCA) of the company’s lithium development scenarios currently under consideration. Based on internationally recognised LCA standards, the Minviro assessment is expected to help quantify any environmental impacts associated with the development of this resource, with Compass expecting to leverage the findings of the LCA to identify ways to further minimise the project’s environmental footprint.

E3 Metals receives provincial funding for Direct Lithium Extraction pilot

Canada-based E3 Metals says it has received a government grant totalling C$1.8 million ($1.4 million) from Alberta Innovates that will assist it in funding a pilot plant to test out its proprietary Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology.

DLE technology, the company says, seamlessly connects conventional oil field and lithium processing, with the potential to unlock Alberta’s previously untapped lithium resources.

This direct brine process produces a concentrate feedstock that could be turned into lithium hydroxide using conventional production equipment, according to the company, with the benefit of DLE being that it can achieve at least 20 times to almost 100 times concentration of lithium (up to 5,300 mg/L) with a reduction of over 99% of all impurities and an extraction time of hours. This is achieved with average lithium recoveries of over 90%, the company says.

“E3 Metals’ goal is to commercialise its global-scale lithium resource and deliver zero carbon emissions, battery grade lithium products to the growing electric vehicle supply chain,” it said.

The funding provided by Alberta Innovates is to support the demonstration E3 Metals’ DLE technology by progressively scaling it up from the lab prototype to a field pilot. The first step will be a prototype operating within E3 Metals’ Calgary lab, and then a field pilot operating continuously on a site within E3 Metals’ resource area in Alberta.

“By demonstrating the process at a pilot scale over numerous months, the company plans to significantly de-risk its Alberta lithium project prior to scaling up to the anticipated commercial scale of 20,000 t/y lithium hydroxide monohydrate,” it said.

Alberta Innovates is a provincially funded corporation with a mandate to deliver 21st century solutions for the most compelling challenges facing Albertans, E3 Metals says. It does this by building on the province’s research and technology development strengths in the core sectors of health, environment, energy, and food and fibre, and platforms such as clean technology, digital technology for business transformation, data-enabled innovation, and innovative production and distribution.

E3 Metals has 7 Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent inferred mineral resources in Alberta within the Leduc Reservoir. Some 1.9 Mt of this is confined within its Clearwater lithium project.