Unlocking Alberta's Lithium Potential

Geological units of Alberta range in age from Archean to Recent and are exposed as broad northwesterly trending belts, which decrease in age towards the southwest (Hamilton et al., 1999).

Precambrian rocks are exposed in the northeast and form the basement for a thickening wedge of Phanerozoic strata of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) that reaches a maximum thickness of about 6,000 m in front of the Cordilleran fold-and-thrust belt to the southwest.

The crystalline basement rocks of northern Alberta represent the westernmost part of the Canadian Shield and have been assigned to more or less distinct continental slivers accreted to the composite Churchill province during the assembly of western Laurentia (~2.0 to 1.8 Ga; e.g., Hoffman, 1988; Ross et al., 1994); or to a more uniform continental fragment that was separated from and welded back to the Churchill province (Burwash et al., 1994, 2000).

Formation waters within the Devonian tend to be enriched in lithium. These formation waters are pumped to the surface in large volumes as waste products associated with oil and gas production.

The Devonian Winterburn-Woodbend, and Elk Point groups contain over 50% and 23% of Western Canada's initial established recoverable oil and gas reserves, and accounts for 54% and 34% of Western Canada's cumulative production oil and gas to date (Hay, 1994).

Mineralization consists of Li-enriched Na-Ca brines hosted in aquifers within Devonian carbonate reef complexes predominantly of the Woodbend-Winterburn groups (Red Deer; South Peace River Arch; and Fox Creek groups of permits) and Elk Point Group (Southeast group of permits).

Lithium values of up to 140 mg/L Li are reported, historically, from the AER oil and gas well database and Government studies (Hitchon et al., 1995; Eccles and Jean, 2010; Huff et al., 2011, 2012).

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