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Extracting lithium from oilfield wastewater

North Dakota's Industrial Commission is investing $500,000 in a study of extracting lithium from oil field wastewater.

Wellspring Hydro will do the six month study.

"They feel there's a potential for up to 20,000 tons of lithium per year in North Dakota, given the volumes of produced water that we have," said Industrial Commission deputy executive director Reece Haase.

Haase said oil production produces about 1.8 million gallons of produced water. And he said lithium is in high demand.

"The value of the lithium is around $500,000 per ton," Haase said.

Haase said Wellspring Hydro already has lab testing that this extraction will work.

"But what they want to do is demonstrate in the field that they can actually accomplish it at a commercial scale," Haase said.

The money for the project comes from the Oil and Gas Research Fund. That fund comes from a portion of the taxes the oil companies pay.

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