TORQUAY, EMERALD PARK – Arizona Lithium is moving forward with its Prairie Lithium Project at Torquay, Saskatchewan, having spent the last week of October building the well pad lease for the project.

Early in 2023, Arizona Lithium Ltd., a Perth, Australia-based company with significant operations in Arizona, bought Emerald Park-based Prairie Lithium. While the overall company is “Arizona Lithium,” they refer to the Saskatchewan project as their “Prairie Lithium Project.”

 

Arizona Lithium executive director Zach Maurer at the site where the company intends on building its first commercial lithium extraction facility, southwest of Torquay. Behind him, a crew from Jerry Mainil Ltd. of Weyburn strips topsoil on Oct. 23. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

Zach Maurer, executive director with Arizona Lithium and founder of Prairie Lithium, said, “Prairie Lithium was developing its own Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology, while also testing other leading external DLE technologies. A third party DLE technology was put through two phases of initial testing from Q3 2022 – Q2 2023. Successful results from the first two phases of testing, enabled the company to move forward with a third and final phase of testing, which is a pilot plant in Saskatchewan, and shift its internal DLE development down to the company’s research center in Tempe, Arizona. That pilot plant has arrived in Saskatchewan and is anticipated to be operational in November using brine from the companies past exploration programs.”

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He added, “The pilot is anticipated to provide the information for the final design of a commercial DLE facility. With that, Arizona Lithium is moving forward with its commercialization plans by preparing the ground for the well pad that will support the first lithium extraction facility.”

This enlarged lease, southwest of Torquay, is the intended location for Arizona Lithium’s first commercial lithium extraction facility. Multiple wells are planned for the site. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

The company cleared a larger lease approximately five kilometres southwest of Torquay, Saskatchewan. The site is about six kilometres south and two kilometres east of their initial site, which was the first targeted lithium well drilled in Canada, back in the fall of 2021. The new site, at 1-15-2-12-W2, is roughly one quarter of the way between the first site and a geothermal test well drilled by Deep Earth Energy Production (DEEP) within a few hundred metres of the U.S. border. Prairie Lithium had acquired that well from DEEP for lithium testing purposes. Those tests were done in the fall of 2021.

This map shows the location of existing Arizona Lithium wells and the planned location of the first production facility. The northern well was the first lithium well drilled in Canada. The southern one is the test well drilled by DEEP. The middle site is the intended production facility. Map courtesy Arizona Lithium

Maurer said they intend on drilling a production and a disposal well on the new location. The timing is yet to be determined, but they are expected to be drilled in the first half of 2024.

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He explained that extensive testing done on the initial wells in 2021 and 2022 investigated which zones of the Duperow formation had the best lithium content as well as production volume, informing the company as to which zones could be comingled to provide the optimum lithium production. As such, the first production well drilled will be a vertical well into the Duperow. The pad is being set up such that subsequent wells can be drilled from the same site, allowing for expanded production in the future.

 

Streamline Oilfield hauled lithium brine samples for this, the first lithium well drilled in Canada. That well was drilled in September, 2021, and brine samples have been stored onsite since then. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

Arizona Lithium is working with the Saskatchewan government to complete permitting for the wells and facility.

One of the advantages of working in this area of Saskatchewan, and Canada for that matter, is that it is in the heart of one of the oilpatch, with local contractors readily available. Just a couple kilometres to the south is Crescent Point’s Flat Lake play, drilled into the Torquay formation. That development is one of the most intensely developed oilfields in Saskatchewan, with hundreds of wells in close proximity. For Arizona Lithium, it means services like drilling rigs, service rigs, dirt movers, facility construction contractors, electrical and the like have been operating in the immediate area for years. Most of those services are based in either Estevan or Weyburn; 40 kilometres away from Estevan, 80 kilometres from Weyburn.

Danny Lohse has been running equipment for Jerry Mainil Ltd. for 48 years. He was the one operating the dozer in these photos. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

This tank, from Latus Oilfield Services, was transported by Bert Baxter Transport. Both are based in Estevan. The tank was delivered to Arizona Lithium’s Emerald Park location on Oct. 17. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

In the meantime, a new pilot testing plant has just arrived at Emerald Park on Nov. 2. Prairie Lithium had stored test samples of lithium brine at it first well for subsequent testing. In October, storage tanks were set up at their Emerald Park facility, and brine from that first well was trucked to Emerald Park for testing in Arizona Lithium’s new plant.

The third party supplied DLE pilot will produce concentrated lithium brine, to be further processed at Arizona’s Lithium Research Center at Tempe, Arizona.

A driver from Streamline Oilfield loads brine samples near Torquay. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

(The company’s other major project is their “Big Sandy Project” within Arizona, thus the company’s name.)

“The company has previously produced high purity lithium using this DLE technology, and anticipates producing larger quantities of high purity lithium as a result of the pilot,” Arizona said in a release.

According to Maurer, Arizona Lithium is targeting initial commercial production from their new Torquay site in 2025. It is currently finalizing the commercial facility engineering and design based on the pilot plant operation.

The company is also aiming to complete its preliminary feasibility study (PFS) by the end of 2023.

 

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Lithium in SK, Part 20: Hub City Lithium again finds some of the high concentrations in Canada, announcing second test well results

Lithium in SK, Part 19: Grounded Lithium’s Kindersley project could cost $447 million to build, but bring in $350 million per year

Lithium in SK, Part 18: Hub City Lithium drills second targeted well in Viewfield area, near Stoughton

Lithium in SK, Part 17: Lithium prices have come down … to only US$70,000 a tonne. A decade ago, they were US$7,000

Lithium in SK, Part 16: Arizona Lithium closes Prairie Lithium deal

Lithium in SK, Part 15: Grounded Lithium lays out its development plan

Lithium in SK, Part 14: Prairie Lithium gets federal money, acquisition deal to close soon

Lithium in SK, Part 13B: Hub City announces highest lithium concentration to date, by a significant margin

Lithium in SK: Part 13: Coming into lithium with revenue already flowing from oil

Lithium in SK, Part 12: Hub City Lithium shows promising results northeast of Weyburn

Lithium in SK, Part 11: A detailed video on lithium geology in SE Sask

Lithium in SK, Part 10: A helium explorer who found lithium responds

Lithium in SK, Part 9: And the acquisitions begin, with Prairie Lithium to be acquired by Arizona Lithium

Lithium in SK, Part 8: Ministry of Energy and Resources response to primacy of rights issues

Lithium in SK: Part 7b: The rent’s due, and so is the LLR

Lithium in SK, Part 7: Dealing with an embarrassment of riches – sorting out the primacy of rights

Lithium in SK, Part 6: Direct Lithium Extraction is the multi-billion dollar question

Lithium in SK, Part 5: Prairie Lithium – Old wells or new wells?

Lithium in SK, Part 4: Prairie Lithium pursuing the idea there could be lithium in those brines

Lithium in SK, Part 3: Crown land sale reveals sixth entrant in Saskatchewan lithium exploration race

Lithium in SK, Part 2: Saskatchewan government launches lithium incentives

Lithium in SK Part 1: As the race for lithium takes off, Saskatchewan is seeing the dawn of a new industry