Change to federal tax credit score can be an enormous increase to Alberta lithium extraction

Change to federal tax credit score can be an enormous increase to Alberta lithium extraction

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A small tweak within the federal authorities’s flow-through shares and demanding mineral exploration tax credit score may yield main returns for native firms pioneering the extraction of lithium from brines.

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The change was a part of the federal funds introduced on March 28 and expands on an already present tax credit score. If handed, the tax credit score — presently geared for conventional exhausting rock mining as undertaken in Jap Canada — would incorporate firms making an attempt to drag lithium out of different sources like oilfield brines.

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“It’s going to have a big impact to the obtainable capital that’s going to return into this business right here in Western Canada,” stated Chris Doornbos, founding father of E3 Lithium. “If there’s capital obtainable, the probability of the business rising and changing into a actuality is far increased.”

The flow-through funding permits firms to offer their shareholders a future tax credit score, which was elevated to 30 per cent final yr. E3 Lithium is definitely past the stage the place this flow-through tax credit score will affect the agency individually, as it’s focused for exploration.

With its Clearwater Venture, utilizing the Leduc Aquifer, the agency drilled its check wells close to Olds final summer season and is continuous on the trail towards manufacturing, which incorporates operating a pilot and pre-feasibility examine this yr. It will result in making lithium hydroxide — the product required for batteries — in business tools which they intention to construct in Alberta. If every little thing runs easily E3 can be within the technique of design and development in 2024 with a focused opening in 2026.

Tax credit score anticipated to assist different firms

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For Doornbos, it’s a case of a excessive tide lifting all boats.

There are solely a choose few firms in Alberta engaged on lithium extraction from brine and a big pent-up demand for the product.

Grounded Lithium, headquartered in Calgary, has secured land in southwest Saskatchewan and close to Drumheller. Its operations differ from that of E3 as the corporate will not be working from the aquifer from earlier oil and fuel websites. As a substitute, it’s focusing on lithium-rich brines in non-oil areas so it doesn’t should separate out oil throughout the processing. Nonetheless, this implies there’s extra exploration work for the corporate.

Grounded Lithium drilled its first check nicely final summer season at a price of $1.5 million, however as a result of this occurred previous to the change, it won’t be lined beneath the flow-through tax credit score. Future exams, nonetheless, can be.

It’s about de-risking the method for firms to be able to meet an enormous demand in Canada and around the globe.

“There definitely is quite a lot of momentum behind the power transition. We see loads of challenges in all of that to get there, together with the entire provide chain,” stated Gregg Smith, president and CEO of Grounded Lithium. “The chain by way of manufacturing the anodes to cathodes, the batteries, and EVs is nicely in place. Who they forgot to speak to is the mining business.”

Demand for lithium anticipated to develop

In keeping with the Lithium Business Affiliation, the demand for lithium will develop from 292 thousand metric tons in 2020 to 2.5 million metric tons by 2030, principally as a result of elevated utilization of lithium-based batteries in electronics and automobiles.

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The federal authorities has legislated the phase-out of conventional flamable engines in new automobiles by 2030 in an effort to get to internet zero. To fulfill this demand, officers have prioritized the sourcing and mining of vital minerals domestically in addition to the event of producing crops in Canada for batteries and automobiles.

Whereas all types of lithium mining in Canada can be required as an answer to this, brine extraction has a few benefits over the standard exhausting rock mines in Ontario and Quebec that fell beneath the primary iteration of the tax credit score. The strategy being utilized by E3 Lithium and Grounded Lithium has extra price predictability and takes a few third of the power to supply, along with there being no open pit scarring the land.

“I’m not attempting to detract from mining — we see them as a vital element to the entire battery power transition,” stated Smith. “Nevertheless it’s simpler for us to have a smaller footprint.”

‘That is as huge as oil is to Alberta’

Doornbos additionally pointed to the financial affect as a complete for lithium extraction. Specifically, there’s a direct transition for oilfield staff to return off a rig or a pipeline crew, because the infrastructure and the tools are very related.

“The ability set is 100 per cent transferable,” stated Doornbos.

He stated Alberta has the lithium reserves to be one of many largest gamers on this planet and as a rustic to change into a serious power on the worldwide scene not simply in uncooked supplies however as a producer.

“We might be 10 per cent of the world’s lithium manufacturing out of Alberta (by 2040),” he stated. “We have a look at it from a relative scale, that is as huge as oil is to Alberta, globally. We can be one of many prime reserves of lithium on the planet.”

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Twitter: @JoshAldrich03