MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY — When the life of a lithium extraction plants end, the land will be completely cleaned up, unlike some abandoned oil and gas wells, officials say.
E3 Lithium chief executive officer and founder Chris Doornbos, Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers and Energy and Minerals Minister Brian Jean all gave that assurance Sept. 7 during an official opening ceremony for E3’s pilot plant, operating near Torrington.
“Well, I mean, we trust in our provincial government. And we trust that our provincial government has learned from past experiences,” Aalbers said during an interview with the Albertan.
"This is a new, innovative technology, it’s at the (initial) stages of development,” Aalbers added.
"I know the province is very excited about this opportunity and I am certain that they will put in any regulations or policies that they need to do to protect Albertans and grow the economy.”
She was asked if the county will lean on the province to ensure any laggard sites are cleaned up.
“Mountain View County is always leaning on the province to ensure that environmental best practices are held and that our residents are getting protection from all industry,” Albers said.
"But also, we support the province in making sure that that economic development opportunity is there and that the jobs are there for our residents.”
“That’s a good question,” Jean said. “I think that what we have to do is make sure when we manage this type of exploration and development that we get it right on the exit, not just on the entrance.
“And last time the oil and gas industry did have some challenges – in particular with companies (that) left town.
“They didn’t leave enough behind to make sure there was a clean-up and we’re dealing with that now and we shouldn’t have to deal with that. We need to make sure we don’t in the future.
"I just mentioned to Chris, the CEO of E3, this very thing, and telling him that we should make sure that we get this right, and he agreed with that.
"I think that’s what most producers now want to (do), is they want to be a better steward of the land and better steward of the environment, especially here in Alberta, where we lead the world on environmental stewardship,” he added.
Doornbos said when the pilot wraps up, the site will be completely cleared – including the gravel spread throughout the site.
"Gravel gone, hauled out, all the equipment taken down, well de-commissioned, all topsoil pushed back, farmers farming it,” he said.