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Organizations partner to explore viability of lithium extraction in British Columbia

Oil well in Canada. (Reference image by Ken Lund, Flickr).

Non-profit organization Geoscience BC, LithiumBank Resources and non-profit corporation Northern Development have partnered to create the NEBC Lithium – Formation Water Database, a project that will assess concentrations of lithium and other important elements in brines in British Columbia’s formations by taking samples from existing natural gas and oil wells. 

Once the projected 500 samples are collected from 12 prospective subsurface formations, the Geological Survey of Canada will receive them for their lithium research and will provide sampling analysis support in return. 

“A team from Canadian Discovery and Matrix Solutions has prioritized a list of existing natural gas wells and is discussing access and sampling with operators. Communities and Indigenous groups in the region have been informed and encouraged to provide feedback on the project,” the leading organizations said in a media statement.

“The project team plans to collect hundreds of samples from up to 12 different subsurface formations. The samples will be analyzed before producing a database and suite of maps for the sampled formations, including lithium concentration maps.” 

The group pointed out that the inspiration behind this project lies in the fact that lithium demand is expected to grow nearly 500% by 2050 and that the metal is included in the Government of Canada’s Critical Minerals List as one of 31 materials that are key to the sustainable economic success of the country and its allies. 

The initiative is also considered feasible because analogous research in areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan that have similar geology to that of British Columbia’s northeast has shown potential for extracting lithium from brines and has led to significant investment and economic development. 

“This research is the first step in identifying if brines found in the region may be enriched with enough lithium to make extraction viable. It is innovative research with the potential to spur a new industry in northeast British Columbia,” Geoscience BC president and CEO, Gavin C. Dirom, said in the press brief.