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MGX Minerals extracts lithium from oil wastewater

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

MGX Minerals Inc. (MGX or the company) has successfully extracted lithium from heavy oil wastewater. Results are part of the ongoing optimisation for completion and deployment of a pilot plant in support of its 487 000 hectare Alberta lithium project.

The company owns a patent pending process (United States Provisional Patent #62/419,011) for the extraction of lithium and other valuable minerals from oil brine. This technology is the first of its kind, reducing production time of lithium from brine by 99% compared with conventional lithium brine production times that use solar evaporation. Process time is reduced from approximately 18 months to one day using MGX's process.

Heavy oil evaporator blowdown wastewater (EBD) is one of the byproducts of steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) during production of heavy oil. EBD was specifically targeted as the wastewater contains mid-level concentrations of lithium and has the potential to generate high environmental revenue based on current disposal costs. MGX and PurLucid Treatment Solutions (PurLucid) are working to integrate their respective technologies and develop a pilot plant suitable for commercial use that will treat EBD to provide oil sand producers with additional environmentally friendly disposal options, as well as recover valuable minerals such as lithium.

As reported by Dr. Preston McEachern of PurLucid:

  • Starting EBD with Li concentration of 87 mg/L.
  • Final recovery of Li was 34.8 mg/L or 40%.
  • Li was lost in the initial softening of the EBD (18%) when approximately 20% of the fluid mass is lost due to removal of silica and other solids,
  • 1% of the Li was lost in the NaCl removal step.
  • 16% of the Li was lost in the magnesium removal step.
  • 4% of Li was lost in the CaCl2 removal step.
  • 21% of the total Li remained in the final brine. This portion of lithium has a high probability of recovery by further reaction or during a second pass.
  • Li was crystallised as lithium carbonate.
  • Other primary recoveries of minerals in total were sodium 83% and calcium 100%.
  • The final brine still contained high concentrations of sodium, potassium, and boron indicating where optimisation will focus on.
  • Additional applicable data was collected for the potential extraction of boron, bromine, magnesium and potassium.
  • The treatment process removed all suspended solids, 99.97% of the hydrocarbons and reduced scale forming ions such as silica to levels suitable for reuse in steam generating processes.


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Downstream news Oil refinery news