Gregg Smith, former Saskatchewan Oilman of the Year, and Greg Phaneuf, are now looking for lithium with their company, Grounded Lithium. Photo courtesy Grounded Lithium

 

Grounded Lithium Corp. is the second company to drill a targeted lithium well in Saskatchewan. That initial well was spudded near Coleville in west central Saskatchewan on July 27 and drilling concluded during the first week of August. The Company plans now to bring appropriate equipment to properly complete and test the well.

On Aug. 24, the company announced it has closed its amalgamation with VAR Resources Corp. and it had commenced trading on the TSX Venture Exchange on Aug. 23 under the symbol GRD. It is listed as a Tier 2 Mining Issuer.

Gregg Smith, president and CEO, and Greg Phaneuf, VP finance and CFO, are the founders. Pipeline Online spoke to them via email in early August, and they responded Aug. 24.

 

Pipeline Online: Gregg, you were the 2009 Saskatchewan Oilman of the Year. How does the oilman of the year spend the last two years putting together a lithium exploration company?

Gregg Smith: Globally we are seeing a desire to explore alternative energy sources, and my interests in exploration and development took me to looking at lithium. I chased the geology looking for favourable areas for development with necessary infrastructure and room to grow. Chasing the geology led us to western Saskatchewan, which we immediately favoured based on numerous factors. We love working in Saskatchewan because of the people, the environment, and the clarity of communications with the provincial regulator and government. Saskatchewan over-all is a favourable jurisdiction for development in the resource industry. There is a positive attitude toward making things happen in a manner that respects both the beauty of the environments that we are fortunate enough to work in as well as the health and safety of the citizens we encounter along our journey.

Pipeline Online: Greg, what are your Saskatchewan roots and background?

Greg Phaneuf: I’m a proud born and raised boy from Saskatoon. Went to Holy Cross High School and then completed my Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Saskatchewan. From there, I moved to Alberta to start my career but my entire family is still based in the province. My mother’s side of the family has strong farming roots near Lake Lenore about 75 miles northeast of Saskatoon. My father’s side have been long-time Saskatoon residents with my grandfather being very active in the real estate market for most of his life. My father was a dedicated elementary school principal for his entire career in Saskatoon. Saskatchewan remains close to my heart having criss-crossed the province during my competitive minor sports playing years, years at the family cabin at Chitek Lake and I still have a soft spot for the Riders…assuming they get a decent quarterback!

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Pipeline Online: How did Grounded Lithium come about?

Smith: My interests in investigating and exploring provided me the opportunity to independently start investigating lithium from my home office. I also benefit from years of oil and gas experience that provide a great deal of background knowledge of the sedimentary basin and its evolution. As the ideas started to come together, the first person I called for support was Phanner (Greg Phaneuf). We added to the team as we identified the need for additional help and skills. Our team has a clear focus on what we are trying to achieve and our target is responsible development of commercial Lithium production.

Phaneuf: Gregg and I met several years prior to the creation of Grounded looking to restart an oil and gas company of some size. We had a large pending transaction but other corporate events outside our control put our deal on ice. Gregg and I have had alignment from Day 1. After our oil and gas deal walked away on us, Gregg reflected on new opportunities with energy transition being a key focus. Gregg came to me after a number of months and presented a lithium idea. Gregg’s involved thinking on where to look for, explore, develop and ultimately sell lithium was instantly intriguing to me. Energy transition is a global shift and if there is one thing I’ve learned from many years of working with very smart successful business men and women, early movers reap the greatest rewards. We believe we represent that and will offer a compelling value proposition.

Pipeline Online: What are you trying to accomplish?

Smith: We are resource developers at our core. We intend to take our considerable experience in oil and gas resource development and apply this to an exciting new industry. There are many parallels in the lithium from brine industry as that to the oil and gas industry. Our vision is to build a best-in-class, environmentally responsible lithium resource developer in Canada and be part of the battery supply chain industry.

Pipeline Online: What are your timelines?

Phaneuf: We wish to move aggressively through the various stages to commercialize a new industry tempered by ensuring at each stage we have garnered enough data, analysis, and confidence to proceed to the next milestone. Key milestones include bench testing, commercial demonstration facility testing and ultimately full commercialization. Far faster to market than a lithium spodumene mine or large evaporation ponds in warmer climates, our lithium from brine project would see us producing commercial quantities of lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide, depending on ultimate customer requirements, some time in the 2025-2026 timeframe.

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Pipeline Online: You just drilled your first exploration well. Why at Coleville?

Smith: Grounded, from day one, let the geology drive our decisions. Fundamental questions, like those posed in the oil and gas industry such as, where is it coming from and where is it ending up were used to identify our exploration and development plan. That combined with the obvious economic considerations brought us to target the southwestern part of the province. We have now accumulated over 250 square miles of prospective acreage and intend to develop the resource in a modular format. In other words, we did the hard work to get comfort on where we wanted to explore and where would be the optimum location to work our resource. The Kindersley area is a wonderful place for us to work with the abundance of infrastructure, services, and the hard-working trained people of the area.

Pipeline Online: What sort of testing are you doing, and when do you expect results?

Smith: We are undertaking standard testing of concentrations in brine samples, similar to what many of our peers are doing. We are also testing deliverability parameters which is absolutely critical to operate an economic project. Concentration parameters are only half the equation. We expect to communicate results in these two main parameters over the course of the next 3-12 months as we conduct operations both in the field and in the lab.

Pipeline Online: Why drill a targeted well as opposed to using old wells?

Smith: As mentioned above, deliverability is a key parameter. As the deeper section in the Duperow does not contain hydrocarbons in this area, we do not see as many wells drilled into this deeper geology. Furthermore, many of the existing wells in the area were designed and drilled to fit a specific purpose for oil and gas operations. Development of a lithium from brine project requires a different set of parameters. That does not mean most existing wells are fine for testing but insufficient to meet our needs. We are assessing all wells in our area to determine if candidates for full field development.

 

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  • 0026 Buffalo Potash Quinton Salt
  • 0023 LC Trucking tractor picker hiring mix
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0019 Jerry Mainil Ltd hiring dugout
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0014 Buffalo Potash What if PO
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Grounded Lithium just drilled its first targeted lithium well in Saskatchewan, only the second of its type in this province

Royal Helium found high concentrations of lithium in its Climax-1 well