MGX to Bridge the Gap between Dirty Petcoke and the Environment

"It was the dirty secret of Alberta´s tar sands – until the black mountain of petroleum coke on the banks of the Detroit River grew to occupy an entire city block three storeys high." (Source: Detroit´s mountains of petroleum coke are ´dirtier than the dirtiest fuel´)

Today, MGX Minerals Inc. announced to partner with Highbury Energy Inc. to develop a chemical process to concentrate and extract metals, such as nickel, vanadium and cobalt, from petroleum coke ("petcoke").

Petcoke is the bottom-of-the-barrel leftovers from the refining of Canadian oilsands crude oil and other heavy oils. It´s basically what´s left when gasoline gets taken out of raw oil. Every barrel of crude that comes out of the Alberta tar sands throws off between 60-130 lbs of petcoke. Made up of almost pure carbon, petcoke contains more carbon than coal and thus burns hotter. However, it´s much cheaper than coal because when burned, petcoke is one hell of a potent source of planet-warming carbon dioxide including an array of pollutants such as sulfur that pose serious health and environmental risks. 

Most power plants in North America and Europe will not burn petcoke for fuel because it´s so polluting. It is a waste product that is almost free for the taking. Not only Alberta itself but also cities like Detroit and Chicago, where large US refineries are located, are literally drowning in petcoke due to expanded production from Alberta´s tar sands. 

Refineries that are unable to sell this dirty fuel waste product are exporting vast quantities of it to energy-hungry, third-world countries like India. Based on a recent Associated Press investigation, the US sent more than 8 million tons of petcoke to India in 2016. That´s about 20 times more than in 2010. This news, in turn, prompted India´s court-appointed Environmental Pollution Control Authority to run laboratory tests on the imported pet coke and it was found to have 17 times more sulfur than the limit set for coal, and a staggering 1,380 times more than for diesel. Now, India is fighting back. The government is planning to curb the imports of petroleum coke

According to the Alberta Energy Regulator, pet-coke inventories reached 106 million tonnes in 2016. Suncor, Syncrude, and CNRL operate oil sands mines near Fort McMurray that use upgrading processes that produce petcoke. Approximately half of all coke produced in 2016 came from Suncor’s operations. Suncor has burned small amounts of coke in its boilers for decades at its mine near Fort McMurray, with about 11 per cent of its annual coke production used for site fuel in 2016. Syncrude, which produced 20 per cent of all coke output in 2016, reported that about 21 per cent of its coke production was used as site fuel, similar to 2015. At CNRL’s Horizon project, all coke produced is stockpiled, accounting for just under 10 per cent of total coke inventories in 2016.

Full version / Suncor Oil Sands Project in Alberta. Piles of uncovered petrolum coke, a byproduct of upgrading tar sands oil to synthetic crude. "Petcoke" is between 30-80% more carbon intense than coal per unit of weight. (Source)

MGX and Highbury to Analyze Potential of Extracting Metals from Petcoke

While concentrations of individual metals are low in raw petcoke, Highbury is utilizing its advanced knowledge of the thermochemical gasification process and existing large-scale pilot plant experience to assist MGX in designing a process to generate hydrogen gas and concentrate metals in the form of ash byproduct. Highbury has completed a Phase I report on potential processes and markets for primary and secondary byproducts. A Phase II study has commenced including analyses of locations, laboratory bench top feedstock results, advanced process design and initial plant design parameters. MGX President and CEO, Jared Lazerson, commented in today press-release:

“Similar to advancements made by the Company over the last year in treating wastewater brine and recovering minerals, MGX and Highbury will look to develop a process that utilizes gasification methods to concentrate metals from petcoke. We believe entry into an untapped market of this magnitude aligns perfectly with our business strategy of creating innovative processes and technology to shape the new energy economy.”

Development of the detailed process will be spearheaded by Dr. Paul Watkinson, a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia and a co-founder of Highbury. Dr. Watkinson is a published expert in the field of gasification and oversaw early work on related oil sand gasification in the early 1990’s. He is also a registered Professional Engineer, Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Dr. Watkinson is also an active participant in the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering as well as Engineering Conferences International. He has received numerous awards for his research and has published multiple articles in scientific journals on pilot-scale investigations of conversion of carbonaceous solids, such as coal, shale and biomass, into gaseous and liquid fuels.

Highbury Energy Inc. is an innovative energy company dedicated to the development and utilization of renewable energy resources through the procurement and conversion of biomass. Highbury has developed a proprietary dual-bed steam gasification technology and patented gas cleanup system that converts biomass into high-grade synthesis or fuel gas. This robust process produces a medium calorific value gas from most types of organic matter, such as wood or agricultural wastes, without need of tonnage oxygen. The cleaned synthesis gas can readily replace natural gas in industrial kilns and furnaces in the mineral, pulp & paper, glass, and cement industries. Alternately, the syngas can fuel an internal combustion engine to make electricity, with waste heat used for refrigeration, or district heating.  Syngas can also be converted to high value low carbon liquid fuels such as diesel or jet fuel, or into chemicals such as methanol or ethanol.

Bottom Line

The exciting part of the story is that MGX is now looking to produce battery metals (vanadium, nickel and cobalt) from an oil sands waste product. While ash is only 1-3% of gasified petcoke, vanadium has been reported with concentrations of up to 65%, nickel up to 12% and cobalt up to 0.4%, with hydrogen being the main fuel produced. Hydrogen is one of the main chemicals used in oil sands production. The key would be to process the feedstock at the source and produce hydrogen to be used on site. Much of the burdensome cost of petcoke is caused by transportation, which would be eliminated with local processing. This could turn out as another genius move by MGX, taking a huge negative and turning it into a positive.   

MGX is now in all things energy, except the actual production of energy yet. It´s a truly greentech company which, together with its partners, is creating industrial processes that are not only robust but also have a net environmental benefit. With petcoke being one of the greatest environmental challenges that the planet is currently facing, MGX is not shy to enter into this gigantic industry to make this toxic waste product more environmentally friendly, by recovering heavy metals.

Most recently, MGX appointed Christopher Wolfenberg as Director to lead the corporate transition to a global energy and technology powerhouse. Wolfenberg is partner at the giant Canadian law firm Fasken Martineau LLP. Before, he was partner of the globally recognized international law firm Norton Rose Fullbright. Wolfenberg is a well-known expert in energy M&A and finance, having overseen billions of dollars in transactions. 

The story of MGX in 2018 will be how it begins to monetize all of its energy commodities and resources. Now dubbed the General Electric (NYSE:GE) of the new energy industry, MGX is preparing to transition into all things energy except actually producing the energy. Just as GE has supplied the world with turbines and all types of traditional energy equipment. 

Controlling advanced material resources such as the high-grade Driftwood Magnesium Deposit (8 million tonnes measured and indicated) to some of the most advanced low-energy nanoflotation/filtration lithium, salts, and heavy metals extraction technology in the world, and being the largest land holder of lithium brine in North America as well as the new owner of Teck Resources´ $50 million CAD zinc-air flow battery and fuel division, MGX is on the verge of becoming the most transformational company to revolutionize the new energy industry since Tesla.

Syncrude upgrader in Alberta (source: Petroleum Coke: The Coal Hiding in the Tar Sands)

Company Details

MGX Minerals Inc.
#303 - 1080 Howe Street
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C 2T1
Phone: +1 604 681 7735 

Shares Issued & Outstanding: 93,509,760 


Canadian Symbol (CSE): XMG
Current Price: $1.28 CAD (01/15/2018)
Market Capitalization: $120 Million CAD


German Symbol / WKN (Frankfurt): 1MG / A12E3P
Current Price: €0.843 EUR (01/15/2018)
Market Capitalization: €79 Million EUR 

Previous Coverage

Report #36 “Technological Breakthrough in the Mass Energy Storage Industry“

Report #35 “Eureka! MGX Starts Developing Silica Projects after Acquisition of Mass Storage Battery Technology“

Report #34 “MGX Going Big on Petrolithium: The first large-scale integrated petroleum and lithium project ever developed“

Report #33 “Driving into the Realms of Tesla & Co: MGX Acquires Mass Storage Battery Technology from Teck Resources“

Report #32 “Backed by Private and Institutional Heavyweights: MGX cashes up for Lithium Extraction and Exploration“

Report #31 “MGX Revolutionizes the Lithium World - Commissions First Rapid Lithium Extraction System“

Report #30 “Full Steam Ahead: MGX Engages Senator Polanco (Ret.) to Head California Lithium Brine Strategy“

Report #29 “MGX to Target Geothermal Market for Extraction of Lithium and Gold“

Report #28 “MGX Minerals Commences Development of the World‘s First Petrolithium Field“

Report #27 “Canadian Government Backs MGX Minerals‘ Petrolithium Cleantech“

Report #26 “MGX Minerals Solves the Magnesium Problem of the Lithium Industry“

Report #25 “Hard-Rock Lithium Exposure for MGX“

Report #24 “One of the Largest Initial Oil Estimates in US History“

Report #23 “MGX starts Petrolithium pilot plant to deliver hard facts for strategic partners“

Report #22 “Time to bet: Sprott takes a position in MGX“

Report #21 “Petrolithium: First Come First Served“

Report #20 “Successful Independent Verification of the MGX Lithium Extraction Technology“

Report #19 “MGX to Drill the World‘s First PetroLithium Well in Utah“

Report #18 “MGX Reports Upgrading of Lithium Brine from 67 to 1600 ppm Lithium“ 

Report #17 “MGX technology nominated for prestigious Katerva Award, the Nobel Prize of Sustainability“ 

Report #16 “Unconventional oil play legend Marc Bruner to take MGX and PetroLithium to the next level“ 

Report #15 “Total Conviction: MGX forms PetroLithium Corp. to expand into the US oilfield brine markets“ 

Report #14: “MGX Extracts Lithium from Oil Wastewater - Begins Monumental Integration with Big Oil“

Report #13 "MGX Partners with Oil Major on Lithium Brine, New Energy Industry Facing Fundamental Shift“

Report #12 "Game Changing Potential: MGX Minerals‘ Pilot Plant for Rapid Production of Lithium Nears Completion“

Report #11 "MGX assays 34 g/t gold from surface sampling in British Columbia“

Report #10 “Official: MGX owns magnesium worth multi-billions of dollars and starts pilot plant shortly“

Report #9 “One of the world‘s largest lithium resources on the horizon?“

Report #8 “Ready for significant lithium brine work in Alberta“

Report #7 “At the forefront of Alberta‘s lithium brine riches“

Report #6 “Pioneering Lithium in Alberta: MGX Minerals Teams Up“

Report #5 “Time to Put a Lithium Production Process in Place“

Report #4 “MGX Minerals Taps Into Canada‘s Potentially Largest High-Grade Lithium Resources“

Report #3 “MGX Minerals Receives Mining Lease for 20 years (in British Columbia!)“

Report #2 “MGX Minerals Accelerates Towards Production“

Report #1 “MGX Minerals Plans To Enter The Magnesium Market“

Disclaimer: Please read the full disclaimer within the full research report as a PDF (here) as fundamental risks and conflicts of interest exist. The author hold a long position in MGX Minerals Inc. and is being paid a monthly retainer from Zimtu Capital Corp., which company also holds a long position in MGX Minerals Inc.

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16.01.2018 17:42:40
MGX mentioned in todays Bloomberg article:

340 Billion Gallons of Sludge Spur Environmental Fears in Canada
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Name: MGX Minerals Inc.
Canada Symbol: XMG
Germany Symbol / WKN: 1MG / A12E3P
Shares Issued & Outstanding: 93,509,760
Phone: +1 604 681 7735

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