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Canada-based lithium producer E3 Lithium has started operations at its direct lithium extraction (DLE) field pilot plant in Olds, Alberta.

As part of the pilot plant’s commissioning process, all the major pieces of equipment were connected on-site. E3’s team also conducted a series of inspections and system tests for a safe and successful start of operations.

According to the company, each DLE system is operating as expected based on performance metrics established during pre-pilot testing.

The team began operations by running the DLE processes at different system configuration settings to determine the best and the most efficient process for lithium extraction using the standards set by key performance indicators in June this year.

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By GlobalData

After a specific set of operating parameters is set, each system will run to complete two tests to confirm consistent results over longer periods and to produce large volumes of lithium concentrate. This lithium concentrate will then be processed further to obtain products such as lithium hydroxide.

The data from the pilot plant will be used in the design of a commercial processing facility as part of its pre-feasibility study and feasibility study phases.

E3 Lithium president and CEO Chris Doornbos said: “The start of full operations is a testament to the hard work the team has been putting in to get this equipment running.

“This is a foundational moment for E3 Lithium, as demonstrating DLE at pilot scale will enable us to move forward in developing this lithium asset in Alberta towards commercialisation.”

Construction on the project began in May this year, after a facility licence was secured the prior month.

E3 Lithium claims that its DLE technology can achieve more than 90% recovery while increasing lithium concentration and reducing impurities by 98%.

By scaling up its DLE technology, the company aims to produce highly pure, battery-grade lithium products.