Canadaa-based Prairie Lithium has commissioned the third iteration of its Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) pilot plant at the Emerald Park testing facility. The DLE pilot is designed to process deep subsurface brines sourced from Prairie Lithium’s Fall 2022 drilling program when 600 m3 of lithium rich brine was reserved for ongoing DLE technology testing.
The pilot plant utilizes Prairie Lithium’s Ion Exchange (Plix) material designed to selectively extract lithium from the produced brine water, purposely reducing the amount of contaminants that are carried over into the production stream.
The third iteration of the pilot plant was designed based off the first two DLE pilot plants that ran in the facility over the course of 2021 and 2022. The new plant builds on the experience and knowledge gained from its predecessors, which processed ~400 m3 of lithium rich brine over the lifespans. Significant changes to the plant’s design include new equipment to reduce processing time, improved configuration to enable continuous flow and increased processing capacity.
The pilot plant is expected to provide the information required to enable the design of a field demonstration plant to be deployed on a Prairie Lithium wellsite in Southeast Saskatchewan. Recently, the company converted mineral exploration permits into 21-year mineral leases—the first for lithium brines in Saskatchewan.
Conversion to a lease is only possible when a company has met the minimum work requirement expenditure associated with an exploration permit. Prairie Lithium’s conversion of mineral permits to 21-year mineral leases is a direct result of the exploration work undertaken in 2021 to better understand the distribution of lithium in the Duperow Aquifer in Southeast Saskatchewan.
The exploration program included drilling a new well (14-33-002-12 W2M) and re-completing a well at (01-02-001-12 W2M). Representative fluid samples were collected from eight separate zones in the well at 14-33 and three separate zones in the well at 01-02. In addition to collecting fluid samples, the 14-33 well was flow-tested for overall productivity because long-term sustainable production of brine will be necessary for project viability.
The permit to lease conversion allows Prairie Lithium the opportunity to advance its research and development at a meaningful scale in the field at the appropriate time. Prairie Lithium intends to scale-up and deploy DLE technologies that will maximize the long-term value of its resource. In parallel to its own DLE technology development, the company is also actively assessing external DLE technologies to ensure that it is utilizing the most cost effective DLE process for long-term production of its resource. The company acknowledges that DLE technologies are not yet ready to be commercially deployed.
The permit to lease conversion will allow Prairie Lithium the opportunity to test DLE technologies on its resource in real world conditions.