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Metal Energy’s Source Rock Lithium Brine Project

Dec 6, 2023

A geologically intriguing project that has piqued the interest of many in the mining industry is the SourceRock Lithium Brine Project in the Thunder Bay-Nipigon area of Ontario, Canada.

 James Sykes - CEO Metal Energy

James Sykes, the CEO of Metal Energy, is the driving force behind the SourceRock Lithium Brine Project. This project represents a significant milestone for Ontario as it marks the province’s first venture into lithium brine exploration. With an extensive land position and uncharted regional targets, Metal Energy is poised to tap into an extraordinary source of lithium, a critical resource in the era of electric vehicles (EVs).
The automotive industry’s transition towards electrification has ignited a boom in the lithium market, sending its value skyrocketing. The appetite for lithium in the coming years is expected to be nothing short of exponential.
As the demand for lithium soars, the question arises: how will we meet this growing need for this critical resource? There are two primary sources for lithium extraction: hard rock and brines. Metal Energy is betting on brine for several compelling reasons.
Hard rock mining involves extracting lithium from lithium-rich pegmatite deposits. This method can be intricate and costly due to the hard, crystalline nature of the rock. Brine extraction, on the other hand, relies on simpler chemistry. Lithium-rich brines occur in underground reservoirs and aquifers and can be processed more efficiently, making it a favorable choice for large-scale production.

Metal Energy core samples

Located in northwestern Ontario in the Thunder Bay area, the SourceRock Project benefits from a long history of mining in the region. Thunder Bay has served as a mining hub for over a century, boasting excellent infrastructure, including highways, railroads, an international seaport, power lines, and a readily available labor force. Furthermore, the Ontario and federal governments have been steadfast in their support for lithium exploration and production.
Metal Energy didn’t hesitate to stake a vast area in the Thunder Bay region, creating a land package that spans approximately 913 square kilometers, making it one of the most substantial lithium exploration projects in the region.
Moreover, the SourceRock Project covers the deepest sections of the Sibley sedimentary basin, where sedimentary thickness can range from 500 to 1,000 meters. This combination of vast acreage and significant sediment depth makes SourceRock a project of immense potential.
The concept behind a lithium brine formation is relatively straightforward and can be broken down into three essential components: source, sink, and reservoir.
Source: The source rock should contain lithium-enriched minerals. 

This source can be either rocks rich in lithium or hydrothermal solutions that release lithium into the surrounding area.
Sink: The sink is essentially a basin where sediments accumulate. It acts as a container for potential lithium-rich fluids.
Reservoir: The reservoir is the final stage, where the fluids seep into the sedimentary rocks, forming a brine with high lithium concentrations.
The Quetico sub-province, with its abundant lithium-bearing pegmatites, serves as the primary source rock for lithium in the SourceRock project. This fertile parental lithium source rock, combined with various geological processes, has created a unique environment with significant potential for lithium concentration in brines.
The SourceRock area has seen previous exploration efforts, mainly focused on nickel, copper, cobalt, PGEs (Platinum Group Elements), and uranium. However, these efforts overlooked the lithium potential, as lithium’s importance in modern technologies, such as batteries, has only recently gained recognition.
Drilling in the area has revealed some remarkable findings. Halite and sylvite veins were discovered up to 180 meters below the Sibley unconformity, indicating a substantial presence of salt in the geological formations. Additionally, sediment samples from the Sibley group returned lithium concentrations of 100 to 200 ppm. These findings are exceptional compared to other lithium-rich areas worldwide, making the SourceRock project a highly promising prospect for lithium extraction.

Diving Deeper: The Quetico Sub-Province
The Quetico sub-province, situated in the heart of SourceRock’s project area, hosts lithium-bearing pegmatites. The proximity of the Georgia Lake pegmatites, discovered in the 1950s, showcases the region’s lithium potential. These pegmatites cover approximately 30 by 105 kilometers, and SourceRock’s project area could envelop this entire lithium province.
As of 2008, the Georgia Lake pegmatites were considered the most extensive lithium in the province of Ontario. While the current status may have evolved, SourceRock’s adjacency to this historically significant lithium project highlights its potential.
The SourceRock project’s scale is significant when compared to lithium-rich Salars in South America, particularly the Salar de Atacama in Chile, the second-largest lithium producer globally. The central salt area of the Salar de Atacama, where most production occurs, measures about 25 by 10 kilometers, covering 250 square kilometers. SourceRock’s land package encompasses an impressive 913 square kilometers, which dwarfs the area of productive lithium extraction in Chile.

Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE)
Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technologies have become a game-changer for brine projects. DLE techniques have been in development for decades, offering a more streamlined and efficient approach to lithium extraction from brines. These methods, including adsorption, solvent extraction, electrolysis, base systems, and membrane-based separations, can achieve high-purity lithium recovery, a vital requirement for battery production.
The flexibility of DLE technology allows it to be tailored to the specific chemistry of SourceRock’s lithium brines. This ensures an efficient and sustainable extraction process, reducing waste and minimizing environmental impact.
The SourceRock Lithium Brine Project in Ontario is at the forefront of the lithium race. Moreover, the emphasis on Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technologies positions SourceRock as a sustainable and environmentally responsible lithium producer. As we look to the future, it’s clear that geology plays a crucial role in shaping our energy landscape, and projects like SourceRock are essential for securing a sustainable future for generations to come.

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Tags: Northern Ontario / Exploration / Battery Metals / All Articles