India Announces Plans to Auction Off Newly Discovered 5.9 Mt Lithium Deposit
The global search for lithium supply has intensified in recent years, due to its critical role in powering the electric vehicle (EV) revolution and achieving global climate goals. In a surprising turn of events, India has joined the lithium race with the discovery of a new lithium block estimated to contain 5.9 million tonnes (Mt) of lithium reserves. This marks the first known lithium resource in the country and propels India to the fifth largest lithium reserves in the world.
Just one month later, the Indian government has announced plans to auction off the lithium block in an effort to lure investment and development. The auction, which is open to both Indian companies and international companies with an Indian subsidiary, is expected to attract significant attention from investors, as the demand for lithium continues to grow in line with the increasing adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.
The successful bidder will have the opportunity to tap into a new source of lithium supply and establish themselves as a major player in the global market.
This announcement comes on the heels of Iran's recent discovery of a potential 8.5 million tonnes lithium deposit, also the country’s first, which would rank as the second-largest lithium reserve in the world after Chile, which has 9.2 million metric tonnes of the metal, according to the US Geological Survey. Prior to the discovery in Iran, Australia was considered the second-largest with approximately 3.8 Mt of lithium reserves.
Canada is also a contender in the lithium supply race with an estimated 3.2 million tonnes of lithium oxides resources at hardrock deposits, although lithium brines in Alberta and Saskatchewan could increase these resources as advanced technology and processing is developed to extract lithium compounds economically from oil and gas fields, including from existing infrastructure and industrial wastewaters.
Multiple lithium projects are advancing around North America, including one of the world's largest documented inferred lithium deposits, which is located in energy-friendly Alberta, Canada.
With 24.3 million tonnes (Mt) of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE), E3 Lithium (TSXV:ETL) (OTXQC:EEMMF) possesses one of the world's largest inferred lithium deposits. The company’s Clearwater Project is expected to be the home of the company’s first commercial facility and its economics outline an NPV 8% of $1.1 billion USD with a 32% IRR pre-tax and $820 million with a 27% IRR after-tax, according to E3's Preliminary Economic Assessment.
E3 Lithium recently outlined its goals and strategic vision for 2023, starting with a Measured and Indicated (M&I) resource upgrade to increase the confidence and understanding of the Clearwater project. Following the resource upgrade, the company will be focusing on completing a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) by the end of the year to outline the detailed plans for its first commercial facility and one of the first global reserves for a DLE resource. Upon the successful completion of the PFS, E3 intends to complete a Feasibility Study, all necessary regulatory permissions, and deliver a project finance arrangement to enable the construction of its first commercial facility in Alberta.
E3 Lithium is also moving along with the development of its field pilot plant. The goal of the pilot is to provide critical information to design its commercial facility. The next steps in the plant development include obtaining approval from the Alberta Energy Regulator, completing detailed design and engineering, publishing KPIs on expected performance, commissioning equipment on site and commencing commercial operations.
The company was also recently awarded C$3.545 million in funding from Natural Resources Canada's Critical Minerals Research, Development, and Demonstration (CMRDD) program.
Funds for the CMRDD program were part of the Government of Canada's Federal Budget 2021 in acknowledgment of the vital role critical minerals play in the energy transition. E3 Lithium was chosen as one of six organizations from throughout Canada.
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