Enertopia CEO: Creating Higher-grade Lithium Solutions with Lowest Possible Magnesium Levels
Enertopia CEO Robert McAllister discusses the company’s progress in developing its extraction technology and creating high-grade lithium solutions.
According to Enertopia (CSE:TOP,OTCQB:ENRT) CEO Robert McAllister, the company is working towards developing the purest lithium brines with the lowest possible magnesium values.
Having deployed the ENERLET extraction technology developed by its partner, Genesis Water Technologies, the company has conducted its first phase of bench testing on samples from multiple locations around the world.
In the interview below, McAllister provides an overview of the strong results from the first phase of bench testing and discusses the work being done to conduct the second phase of testing within Q1 2018.
Below is a transcript of our interview with Enertopia CEO Robert McAllister. It has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Investing News Network: Please give our investor audience an overview of Enertopia, your partnership with Genesis Water Technologies and the ENERLET lithium extraction technology.
Enertopia CEO Robert McAllister: We first engaged Genesis Water Technologies in 2016 as we were drawn to their experience in remediating wastewater from mining and oil and gas projects. Following an internal study, they developed a technical feasibility report for extracting lithium from brines or oil and gas wells and converting it into lithium carbonate. As a result of this report, we signed an exclusive licensing agreement with them.
We began the first phase of bench testing in spring 2017 and picked four different locations that had high magnesium levels from which to collect samples: Clayton Valley, Nevada; an oil well in the mid-continent well region in the US; Argentina; and Bolivia. The reason we explored Argentina is that they have some of the largest lithium production levels in the world, along with Chile. Bolivia, meanwhile, has the highest-grade lithium brine solutions, but their magnesium ratios are too high for them to be mined today.
The goals for our first bench test were to establish the lithium recovery rates in solution and to determine whether we could achieve battery-grade lithium carbonate on our first attempt. The ENERLET technology recovered 72 to 79 percent of the lithium in solution, with lithium carbonate purity levels of 93.7 to 96.9 percent. This is slightly below battery grade, but still remarkably close for our first attempt.
Once we reviewed our results, we agreed to conduct a second phase of bench testing and engaged Dr. John Thomas, a chemical engineer with a strong background in mine processes. In eight months, he has completed the first phase design and we’re now on track to build out the ENERLET system to begin testing in February or March 2018.
INN: What does your most recent test upgrade mean with regards to the success of your extraction technology?
RM: Our most recent results show that we can create a very clean lithium brine solution with very low magnesium levels. Most lithium brines have ratios of 1.5 to 2 parts magnesium to 1 part lithium. Meanwhile, our independent test results show a magnesium ratio that is only 0.018 to 1 part lithium. Those ratios in lithium carbonate from brine are unheard of in today’s industry. We have found that the lower the magnesium levels, the better the odds are for processing lithium carbonate.
INN: The press release highlights that these new values are “38.21 percent higher in lithium and contains only 0.015 percent magnesium based on comparison.” Could you provide more detail on this comparison and what that means to your technology?
RM: Using a real-world example in one of our neighbors in Clayton Valley, we have shown that by varying the solution pH level, we can control the amount of magnesium that precipitates with the lithium into solution. This cannot be done in conventional brine deposits as you have to work with what you have.
I think this is the most exciting aspect of our testing thus far, and it bodes well for us as we plan to run the solutions through the ENERLET system going forward.
INN: The press release also mentions that there was no difference between processing the solution for two or 48 hours. Could you expand on how this is beneficial?
RM: The quicker the material is processed, the more volume you can process within a smaller process flow that doesn’t require large storage vat tanks. It is very exciting that we can recover the same amount of lithium in two hours that would otherwise take two days to process.
INN: With these new results, what is next for Enertopia and how does that fit into the company’s long term plans?
RM: Moving forward we are going to continue with our third-party testing as our technical team has indicated that there are other applications for our conventional and unconventional methods of extraction in order to recover more lithium with lower magnesium levels. We continue to work on creating the highest-grade lithium solution possible with the fewest impurities. During our second-phase bench test we will be running these synthetic brine solutions through the ENERLET system.
INN: Savvy investors know strong management is key to a company’s success. Are there any executives you’d like to highlight on your board and management team?
RM: I would like to highlight our two technical members, our advisor on the lithium side, Dr. John Thomas and Mr. Douglas Wood, who is out of Reno, Nevada and has a long mining history with larger companies. Both of them have been instrumental in the rapid progression of our positive results to date. I can’t say enough about how much they have contributed, and we’re looking to add to their team as this year unfolds.
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