MGX Minerals, Inc. (OTC: MGXMF) (CSE: XMG) (FRA: 1MG) may not be spinning straw into gold the way Rumpelstiltskin did, but it’s coming close with a novel technology that promises to produce ‘white gold’, or lithium from petroleum production brine. Its PetroLithium™ technology extracts lithium carbonate from the salt water that accompanies crude oil as it is pumped to the surface. Lithium carbonate represents a major source of lithium used extensively in batteries for electronic devices, and demand for the mineral is set to expand as sales of electric cars increase.
MGX has acquired working interests in over 1.7 million acres of lithium-bearing brine formations throughout North America. This includes massive land positions throughout the Province of Alberta, as well as the Paradox Basin in Utah. In Utah, the company has acquired a dominate land position in the Paradox Basin, where historic wells reported lithium values as high as 730ppm lithium. The company just announced plans to consolidate oil and gas rights within its Lisbon Valley project and permit the petrolithium #1 borehole well.
Lithium first came into use as a medicinal aid in the middle of the nineteenth century. Lithium carbonate was prescribed to dissolve stones in the bladder, while other lithium salts were recommended for use against gout, rheumatism and depression. Lithium carbonate has been used extensively to treat mania associated with bipolar disorder. However, in 1991, after Sony commercialized the lithium-ion battery, the future of lithium was redefined.
Now, the metal has become so lucrative that it’s being touted as ‘white gold’. Lithium carbonate, from which it is isolated, is a white crystalline powder. Its rising value is buoyed by rapidly growing global demand for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used to power mobile electronic devices and, increasingly, electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S. All told, the global lithium-ion battery market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 10.8% and reach $46.21 billion by 2022, according to Allied Market Research (http://dtn.fm/Jjl8r).
At present, though, as a supplier of lithium, the U.S. looks likely to be left out. Global production of lithium comes mainly from Australia (36%) and Chile (36%), with supplies from China (14%), Argentina (8%), Zimbabwe (3%), Portugal (2%) and Brazil (1%) making up the balance, according to data provided by Australian mining company Dakota Minerals (http://dtn.fm/M4djJ). Notably, the U.S. is absent from that list. The only viable U.S. lithium operation is the Silver Peak mine owned by chemical giant Albemarle in Clayton Valley, Nevada. The dearth of domestic lithium mining operations, consequently, presents a great opportunity for MGX.
MGX’s patent-pending PetroLithium™ technology, being developed in collaboration with PurLucid Treatment Solutions (http://dtn.fm/B83d8), extracts lithium carbonate from the brine associated with petroleum deposits while also treating the resulting wastewater for reuse as clean water.
Much of the petroleum and natural gas found in the U.S. was created in the Earth’s crust at the site of ancient seas by the decay of sea life. As a result, these shale, petroleum and gas deposits often occur in aquifers containing brine (salt water).
The company recently reported a major advancement in the development of its filtration and extraction technology (http://dtn.fm/YZlI9) after PurLucid successfully upgraded petrolithium brine from one of the company’s largest assets – the Sturgeon Lake Petro Lithium Project in Alberta, Canada (http://dtn.fm/nT6Tv). By using a new design process that concentrates lithium while removing contaminants, PurLucid was able to upgrade brine from a concentration of 67mg/L Li to 1600mg/L Li during the filtration and pre-treatment stage of the extraction process.
Extracting lithium from petroleum brine is also faster and less costly than conventional methods, like the solar evaporation used at Silver Peak by Albemarle. In the recovery process specifically designed for the highly-mineralized brine associated with petroleum, lithium brine evaporation times are expected to fall to less than one day, while traditional solar evaporation techniques take up to 18 months. This is technology that could revolutionize the energy sector.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.MGXMinerals.com
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