Canadian exploration and development company E3 Metals has signed a joint development agreement with Livent’s fully owned subsidiary to advance the company’s Ion-Exchange Direct Lithium Extraction process on the Alberta Lithium project.

The agreement aims to develop a process to produce battery quality lithium products from the lithium-rich brines in the Leduc Formation in Alberta.

E3 Metals’ Alberta project has total inferred mineral resources of 6.7 million tonnes (mt) lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) within the Leduc Reservoir Formation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Livent will deploy its technical expertise to assist in the commercial development of E3’s lithium extraction process.

The company will contribute around $5.5m to the joint development project, starting with an initial contribution of $1.5m.

E3 Metals president and CEO Chris Doornbos said: “There are few companies in the world that have the lithium production expertise Livent possesses.

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“This collaboration with Livent, and the Joint Development Project, demonstrates E3’s commitment to the commercialisation of lithium in Alberta; we are excited to begin working with Livent immediately.”

E3 Metals and Livent will jointly accelerate the development of the former’s extraction process and overall lithium production processes through two development stages, namely Ion Exchange (IX) project and Pilot Plant project.

The IX project stage will include finalising the commercial start of the ion exchange sorbent, which is used to produce a high purity lithium concentrate from Alberta brine.

The next development stage, the pilot plant project, will include the construction and operation of a custom pilot plant deployed in Alberta for testing the IX Process. During this stage, the concentrate will be further processed into a saleable lithium product.

Livent president and CEO Paul Graves said: “Collaborating with E3 Metals provides an opportunity to build on our rich heritage of innovation and to bring exciting new possibilities to our customers around the world.”

Last June, E3 Metals completed metallurgical test works that have concentrated raw brine from 75mg/l to 1,206mg/l lithium in less than three hours.