Overview

Ambition: Leverage Alberta’s strong lithium resource base and competitive advantages such as infrastructure and expertise to create a significant source of economic activity throughout energy transition.

This initiative applies oil and gas expertise to unlock the potential of Alberta’s significant lithium resource from oilfield wastewater. As a fundamental component in electronics’ batteries, electric vehicles, and large-scale energy storage, lithium a highly sought-after resource globally and is anticipated to be a key material in a low carbon economy. Lithium is also an element found in dissolved oilfield wastewater. Alberta has large volumes of this brine byproduct, which presents a compelling opportunity for Alberta.

Alberta has significant lithium resources and can be well-positioned to compete in the global market, which is expected to triple by 2025. Alberta offers a stable supply of lithium, a favourable jurisdiction, and a pool of talent and infrastructure. Additionally, Alberta’s knowledge of social and environmental best practices provides Alberta an opportunity to strive to produce lithium with less impact than in other places in the world.

Challenges

In order to advance a lithium industry in Alberta, there is a need for increased stakeholder engagement to develop partnerships. The regulatory and policy framework for lithium is also still uncertain, and technology development needs support. There is also a lack of awareness regarding the potential of lithium as an economic opportunity for Alberta.

Initiative Status

In May 2018, Calgary-based E3 Metals announced that it had reached an important technical milestone moving it one step closer to being able to extract lithium from oilfield brine. This initiative exemplifies the idea of leveraging Alberta’s traditional energy assets, and its skilled human resources, to build the energy system the future requires of us.

The EFL held an Accelerator on Mobility in a Low-Carbon Future to share leading-edge research on Alberta’s role in the movement of people and goods in a low-carbon future, while accelerating innovations in hydrogen, biofuels, and metals supply such as lithium. Learn about the outcomes here.