E3 Metals is an up-and-coming Albertan company that is working on lithium extraction right here in Alberta and is a member of the Sherwood Park & District Chamber of Commerce.  In June 2019, E3 Metals Vice President Liz Lappin visited the Sherwood Park & District Chamber of Commerce for a luncheon speech to discuss lithium potential in Alberta.  Last week, Chamber Policy Analyst, John Perozok, spoke with E3 Metals CEO Chris Doornbos to provide an update on what has happened since last year’s luncheon.

Lithium, right here in Alberta.

With a background in major project development, Chris Doornbos saw lithium as a major opportunity in 2014 and began to capitalize on it.E3 Metals began looking for lithium projects and found Alberta to be a very attractive place to extract lithium: the key reason being it could be produced similarly to how oil and gas is already produced here.

Normally, lithium is extracted through hard-rock mining, or large evaporation ponds.  E3 Metals is focused on Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE), a new method taking advantage of previously-used oil wells found in the Leduc Reservoir that is quicker than traditional processes, and can utilize Alberta’s oil and gas workers already here in the province. Since then, a handful of similar projects have emerged around the world, but our oil and gas experience is the advantage.

Doornbos views their lithium concentrate process as similar to making crude oil as they take the lithium out of the brine directly and make it into a concentrate solution. Then E3 Metals plans to take the lithium concentrate all the way to battery-grade lithium hydroxide, by “refining” (or the correct lithium term, “converting”) it. With the ability to convert the concentrate all the way to battery-grade lithium, other smaller operations in Alberta can send their extracted lithium concentrate to E3 Metals for converting.

A key difference between lithium and hydrocarbons is lithium stores energy but does not create energy; while hydrocarbons create energy. This is why Mr. Doornbos is a firm supporter of the movement towards electrification, but he still believes that hydrocarbons will continue to be a part of our lives for years to come.

Big News for Alberta: A Partnership with Livent

Since E3 Metals last spoke to our Chamber in 2019, they have announced a major partnership with Livent, a US-based multinational company that is a top 5 producer of lithium in the world. E3 Metals and Livent have partnered to commercialize the production of lithium.

What is the impact of this partnership? Doornbos put it succinctly: “The eyes [of the world] are now on Alberta as a potential lithium supplier.”

With Livent on board, there are plans for a pilot to be in operation next year, which will be their last step before moving to full commercialization.

Working with Government

E3 Metals has attracted attention from both the provincial and federal governments.

The Government of Alberta’s Energy Minister Sonia Savage travelled to E3 Metals headquarters in Calgary to host an announcement to advance Alberta’s minerals sector. Doornbos believed that this was a “meaningful” signal of support for the work that E3 Metals is pursuing.

Federally, E3 Metals has been involved with Canada’s Critical Minerals Strategy since this past January.

What does it mean for Alberta? Jobs, and a clean energy product, powered by Albertan Natural Gas.

E3 Metals has an ambitious net-zero carbon emissions goal. Doornbos admitted he was not sure that they would reach 100% emissions reduction, but it is their goal to get there. E3 Metals plans to reduce input energy by using Albertan natural gas power to run their operations and reduce carbon emissions via sequestration.  The sequestration approach to reduce carbon output has been used here in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, to capture and store carbon emissions.

“We want to market the world’s first zero-carbon lithium product,” Chris Doornbos says.

E3 Metals estimates they will create 350 full-time permanent jobs once fully launched, and 1000-2000 temporary full-time jobs during construction.

E3 metals is working in concert with the oil and gas sector to produce a value-added product.  “The reality is that there’s a massive opportunity for Alberta to … make lithium in the province, using the exact same skillset, the same workforce, the same expertise, and put Albertans back to work; and that’s what gets me up in the morning.”

Sherwood Park Chamber working with E3 Metals

The Sherwood Park & District Chamber of Commerce has been assisting E3 Metals to advocate that the federal government make it easier for companies like E3 Metal to access capital for growth.

 “Sherwood Park and District Chamber have been instrumental in addressing minor changes to government policy that may result in massive impact to E3 in the future.” -Chris Doornbos.

If your company is working on an innovative project in Alberta and would like to know how the Chamber can help you, please reach out to Executive Director Todd Banks at tbanks@sherwoodparkchamber.com.

For more information on how we can help provide support for your business or to become a member, visit www.sherwoodparkchamber.com.

Author: John Perozok, Policy Analyst at the Sherwood Park & District Chamber of Commerce.