CVW CleanTech is a publicly traded company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker symbol CVW. Since 2003, CVW CleanTech (previously operating as Titanium Corporation Inc.) has focussed its research, engineering and financial resources towards developing technology to recover bitumen and solvents (“hydrocarbons”) and minerals, primarily high value zircon and titanium products, from mined oil sands tailings projects operating in northern Alberta
Initially working with deposited, dry oil sands tailings, CVW CleanTech commissioned a mineral research and processing facility at the Saskatchewan Research Council in Regina, Saskatchewan in 2004 for flow sheet development test work. Encouraging results were achieved and the Company moved ahead developing technology to process fresh tailings directly from the oil sands tailings pipeline.
In 2005, CVW CleanTech commissioned and operated a bulk sampling plant that was connected to the fresh oil sands tailings pipeline on-site in Fort McMurray. The bulk sampling plant produced washed sands containing heavy minerals, some of which were further processed at the Company's Regina facility.
CVW CleanTech has assessed the mineral content in both deposited tailings and fresh pipeline tailings. This included analysis of fresh tailings on a daily basis which identified a relatively constant proportion of zircon and titanium minerals, but with higher levels of associated hydrocarbons (i.e. bitumen) compared with the material in the deposited tailings. These findings necessitated changes to the process flow sheet design which were then tested by the operation of an on-site modular pilot mineral concentration facility (2006 Pilot Program) during September-October 2006.
The pilot modules were constructed in Australia and shipped to Fort McMurray for commissioning during the summer of 2006. It was built on time and on budget and was designed to concentrate the minerals and to remove bitumen from the heavy minerals. The 2006 Pilot Program achieved high recoveries of a heavy mineral concentrate (98-99%); however, traces of bitumen remained on the heavy minerals. The removal and recovery of bitumen was demonstrated as essential to effectively recover the heavy minerals. In 2007, CVW CleanTech initiated a bitumen R&D project to remove bitumen from the heavy minerals and recover bitumen from the tailings stream.
During 2008 and 2009, the Company successfully executed over 20 research projects with 12 independent research organizations. The program, 50% funded by a $3.5 million grant from the Alberta Government, developed new technologies to recover bitumen and solvent from froth treatment tailings and produce a cleaned heavy mineral concentrate.
During 2010 to 2013, following the successful R&D program, CVW CleanTech executed a large-scale demonstration pilot for three oil sands operators that tested the component technologies in an integrated manner. This $30 million pilot was funded in part by $6.9 million in grants from the Canadian Government's Sustainable Technology Canada agency (SDTC) and the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). The pilot program was highly successful recovering over 80% of the bitumen and solvent as well as producing bulk samples of cleaned heavy mineral concentrate for full scale testing with mineral sands process engineering partners in Australia. Equally important, these recoveries demonstrated significant environmental benefits by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG’s) and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), with great potential for recycling water and thickening tailings.
During 2014 to 2016 CVW CleanTech executed a full-scale demonstration of the minerals separation process to validate valuable minerals recovery potential from froth treatment tailings. Subsequently, CVW CleanTech engaged with oil sands operators with technology reviews, early stage engineering evaluations and preliminary commercial discussions. CVW CleanTech’s suite of 21 patents was finalized for its CVWTM technologies. Environmental benefits owing to CVWTM processing of oil sands tailings were validated by oil sands operators, government agencies and engineering experts.
CVW CleanTech advanced the commercialization of its technology with Canadian Natural Resources Limited (“Canadian Natural”) starting in 2017 and completing front-end engineering designs with third party engineering firms, for the first commercial implementation of CVWTM technology at Canadian Natural's Horizon oil sands site. This $10.2 million engineering design phase was supported by a $5 million grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA). For subsequent EPCM phases of the project, the Company has been awarded an additional $5 million grant from NRCan’s Clean Growth Program, a $40 million grant from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF) and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (“SDTC”) approved a $10 million contribution for the detailed engineering phase of the CVW™ Horizon Project.