Life Cycle Assessment of Lithium Extraction and Refining from Saskatchewan’s Brine Deposits

With the growth in demand for electric vehicles and mobile devices powered by rechargeable lithium batteries, demand for lithium is expected to increase by over 200% in the next decade. Current lithium production comes primarily from Australia, South America and China. There are significant lithium reserves in the same Saskatchewan aquifers currently being exploited for their concomitant oil reserves. Although the lithium concentration in these aquifers is lower than in brines being mined elsewhere, new lithium selective extraction technologies show great promise for making extraction of lithium from these aquifers economical. Prairie Lithium has previously identified a lithium selective ion exchange material that can extract more than 99% of the lithium in a brine sample in only 4 minutes. We have also carried out a successful field trial of our proprietary technology at a scale of 50 m3/day of brine. This field trial represents the first successful extraction of lithium at an operating oil and gas facility in Saskatchewan. The project described here involves assessing the environmental impacts of the lithium extraction, recovery, and refining process in support of the full commercial deployment of our proprietary technology.

Matthew Dreis
Faculty Supervisor: 
Irene Herremans
Partner University: