POSCO HOLDINGS Secures Lithium from Oil-field Brine in Canada

POSCO HOLDINGS has joined forces with Invest Alberta Corporation (IAC) to secure lithium from oil-field brine.

*Oil-field brine : Water that exists around the strata where oil is deposited, and contains minerals such as lithium.

On Nov. 8, POSCO HOLDINGS and IAC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the Canadian Embassy in Seoul with the participation of Lee Kyung-seop, head of the Rechargeable Battery Materials Business Team (executive vice president) of POSCO HOLDINGS, and IAC CEO Rick Christiaanse.

POSCO HOLDINGS plans to actively identify partners to collaborate on the development of lithium resources from oil-field brine in Alberta, review investments in easily accessible lithium deposits, advance oil-field brine lithium projects including demonstrating the commercialization process for the optimal lithium extraction.

In the process, IAC will provide administrative support to POSCO HOLDINGS in its investment process in Alberta, act as a bridge between POSCO HOLDINGS and prospective partners, and provide information on resource development and tax incentives, etc., to facilitate the smooth execution of the business.

Alberta dominates Canada’s oil and shale gas industry and is also renowned for having the world’s largest volume of oil-field brine lithium reserves. Oil-field brine has a somewhat lower lithium content compared to conventional brine resources, but it is emerging as a new lithium resource due to its large-scale deposits reported in countries such as the United States and Canada. In particular, a multitude of companies are considering projects to produce lithium using Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) from oil-field brine deposited in abandoned oil fields, and exploration, development, and commercialization are being promoted by global lithium companies.

*Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) : A method of extracting lithium using techniques such as adsorption without the evaporative concentration process.

POSCO HOLDINGS is currently conducting investment evaluations and research and development on the commercialization of oil-field brine lithium projects based on its accumulated lithium extraction technology and business capabilities through a brine lithium business in Argentina and ore lithium business in Australia. In particular, POSCO HOLDINGS has been developing its own DLE technology with world-class performance and productivity for the past 6 years and is promoting full-scale commercialization.

Through the MOU with IAC, POSCO HOLDINGS is poised to diversify its raw material supply chain beyond traditional lithium resources such as brine and ore lithium to include unconventional lithium resources such as clay and oil-field brine. In addition, POSCO HOLDINGS plans to secure a lithium production base in North America to establish a foundation for stable lithium procurement, including responding to the IRA of the United States.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, IAC CEO Rick Christiaanse said that Alberta, one of the world’s largest lithium reservoirs, will become a global leader in lithium production through its collaborative effort with POSCO HOLDINGS’ North American rechargeable battery material business strategy.

Lee Kyung-seop, head of the Rechargeable Battery Materials Business Team at POSCO HOLDINGS, said that “POSCO HOLDINGS will strengthen its lithium supply chain and enhance its position in the global rechargeable battery material market through strategic collaboration with IAC. In addition, the combination of Alberta’s abundant resources and POSCO HOLDINGS’ innovative technologies will create opportunities for sustainable growth.”

POSCO HOLDINGS plans to strengthen the full value chain of the rechargeable battery material business by promoting the Canadian lithium business in conjunction with strategic mineral investment promotion policies such as the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP), in addition to brine lithium phase 1 and 2 commercialization plants for a total capacity of 50,000 tons and a lithium hydroxide plant with an annual capacity of 43,000 tons based on ore lithium, which are currently under construction, to achieve a global top 3 ranking with a production capacity of 423,000 tons of lithium by 2030.

Image caption: POSCO HOLDINGS signed an MOU with Invest Alberta Corporation of Canada on oil-field brine lithium business cooperation at the Canadian Embassy in Seoul on November 8. From left, Mr. Rick Christiaanse, CEO of IAC, and Mr. Lee Kyung-seop, head of the Rechargeable Battery Materials Business Team (executive vice president) of POSCO HOLDINGS.

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