Alberta’s E3 Lithium Ltd. (TSX-V: ETL) (OTCQX: EEMMF) has successfully produced battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM) at its new facility north of Calgary. The substance is used to make cathode-active material for lithium-ion batteries.
On Tuesday, the company announced that the LHM manufactured at its direct lithium extraction (DLE) pilot plant had 99.78 per cent purity. E3 says 99.5 per cent purity or higher is generally accepted as being battery quality and that it aims to become a direct supplier to the battery industry going forward.
“Demonstrating that we can produce an industry quality specification on conventional and standard industry equipment is an important and exciting step forward,” said the company’s CEO Chris Doornbos. E3 started operations at its pilot plant at the end of August this year.
To produce the chemical, lithium concentrate produced through DLE is purified and concentrated into lithium carbonate, which is then converted into LHM before being crystallized into a salt-like substance. The company’s goal is to produce large quantities of lithium concentrate at its pilot plant that can be refined into substances like LHM.
E3 says it is cooperating with major equipment vendors to develop downstream refining processes needed for a commercial facility and that lithium concentrate produced from its new pilot plant in Alberta will be used to test and develop those processes. LHM is a highly corrosive substance that can severely burn a person’s skin.
When E3 started initial tests at its pilot plant earlier this month the company exceeded key performance indicators, including three tests yielding a significantly higher lithium recovery rate than the 80 per cent specified.
E3 says it has more measured and indicated lithium resources than any other company in Canada at 16 million tonnes. The company has had a large land position in Saskatchewan since 2021, spanning 66,800 acres.
In 2021, E3 received a $1.8 million grant from Alberta’s government to help develop its technology and later secured an additional $30.5 million from Natural Resources Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The majority of that sum is conditionally repayable.
E3 Lithium aims to be a key supplier in the electrical revolution as demand for carbon-neutral technologies grows. The company has a market capitalization of $138 million.