With the growing interest and push in electric vehicles these days and the materials needed to go into them, such as batteries and lithium, Alberta could benefit from this trend by launching more projects in the province.
It’s just part of a mining revolution in Alberta that could help diversify the economy which has for so long relied primarily on the oil and gas sector as its bread and butter industry.
According to Invest in Canada, Canada’s global investment attraction and promotion agency, lithium is a highly sought-after resource, as it is a fundamental component for batteries in electric vehicles, electronics and large-scale energy storage. And Alberta, which has significant lithium resources, is poised to compete in the global market.
“Alberta is ready to capitalize on the growing demand for lithium. The province’s oil fields hold large deposits of lithium in subsurface brine, which has long been overlooked as industrial waste from oil field operations. Now, technologies known as direct lithium extraction (DLE) are being developed to access Alberta’s lithium-brine potential in many of the same reservoirs as Alberta’s existing oil and gas resources,” says the agency.
“Alberta’s large lithium brine deposits are attractive to new mining and mineral processing projects, allowing the province to easily become a strong lithium carbonate producer. Most lithium is produced commercially from either the extraction of lithium-containing salts from underground brine reservoirs or the mining of lithium-containing rock, such as spodumene. Extracted lithium is a critical metal frequently used in batteries for electronics and electric vehicles, as well as in ceramics and glass. Further along the supply chain, there is potential for investment in lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathodes and battery cell manufacturing to supply the growing EV market.”
But lithium is not all the province has. Other metallic and industrial minerals in abundance include uranium, vanadium, nickel, rare earth elements, potash and diamonds.
The Alberta government says the province has the opportunity to be at the forefront of global mineral exploration and development.
“Worldwide demand for metals and critical minerals is rising rapidly in response to growing populations, technological advancement, global transformation to a low carbon economy, and national security interests. Key examples of global demand include lithium for electric vehicles and battery storage; vanadium for energy storage systems; rare earth elements for batteries, electronics and wind turbines; and potash as a fertilizer,” says the Alberta government.
“In 2018 the World Bank predicted an increase in demand of about 500% by 2050 for minerals such as graphite, lithium and cobalt just to feed the clean energy transition alone. Currently North America mainly relies on imports for these minerals. Alberta has the potential to diversify the metallic minerals supply chain that is currently dominated by a few international players, such as China, Australia and several African nations. With an experienced work force, assertive leadership and a strategic plan for minerals, Alberta is well-positioned to become a leader in the development of clean technologies and support the global transformation to a low carbon economy, reducing the supply risk for a net-zero emission future.”
With the revolution taking place in the mining industry these days, Alberta is poised to seize the opportunity to diversify and grow its economy which is good news for everyone in the province.
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*Image Source: https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/08/12/Alberta-Environment-Minister-Cheered-Coal-Mining/