Geoscience BC creates first Northeast BC lithium database

May 6, 2024

In July of 2022, the Geoscience BC Society was approved for a $200,000 grant to collect data about the amount of lithium available in Northeast B.C. The NEBC Lithium – Formation Water Database project tested brines from deep below the surface of natural gas wells to create the first database of lithium and other critical metals in Northeast B.C. formation waters.

The results indicate that it may be economic to extract lithium from the brines alongside natural gas development in the region. This project created a legacy database of lithium, other elements, and water chemistry properties and concentrations in NEBC. The public, peer-reviewed results can help the natural resource sectors, governments, communities, Indigenous groups and academia further understand the potential for lithium extraction from brines in the region.

In Alberta and Saskatchewan, similar programs have led to the creation of many new companies and jobs. Some of these companies are finding ways to extract lithium directly from natural resources using methods originally developed for oil and gas. They’re using techniques like solvent extraction, molecular recognition technology, and electrochemical processes to get lithium from the water. These methods are becoming more efficient, even when the lithium concentration is relatively low.

“Northern Development’s contribution to this project supports a transition to a net-zero emissions economy by researching potential sources of critical minerals like lithium,” said Randy Hughes, manager, energy and water for Geoscience BC. “This project provides independent, public information for industry, government, communities and Indigenous groups looking to understand the potential for extracting lithium from northeast BC’s subsurface brines.”