Sustainable Business News (SBIZ)
c/o Squall Inc.
P.O. Box 1484, Stn. B
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5P6
Canada: 1-855-569-6300

CVW CleanTech, Indigenous groups form investment framework

Opens Alberta-based Indigenous communities for investment into CVW's technology

CVW CleanTech's froth treatment pilot plant in Devon, Alta. (Courtesy CVW CleanTech Inc.)

CVW CleanTech Inc. (CVW-X) and First Nation and Métis communities from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Alberta have signed an agreement that opens up investment opportunities in the Calgary-based company's oil sands tailings solution.

The Indigenous communities will be able to invest a minimum of 20 per cent into a joint venture to deploy CVW's hydrocarbon recovery technology, a minimum of 40 per cent into its mineral recovery facilities, and participate in equity raises.

The non-binding agreement includes the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Fort Chipewyan Métis Nation, Fort McMurray 468 First Nation Economic Development Corporation and McMurray Métis.

“The key part of this agreement was really to provide the Indigenous communities in the region an ability to participate in the deployment of our technology with meaningful ownership,” Akshay Dubey, CVW’s CEO, told Sustainable Biz Canada in an interview.

It is also critical the company gains “a license to operate” in the region to build trust with Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the federal and provincial governments, he added.

Partnering with Indigenous Peoples

Described as a watershed for CVW, the agreement differs from typical business partnerships with Indigenous groups, as most involve pre-existing assets and not a proactive role in development, Dubey said.

CVW approached the communities in the fall of 2023 to introduce its technology and outline how it could provide jobs, economic growth and intergenerational wealth, while addressing health and environmental problems. The groups involved have relationships and access to local oil sands operators such as Suncor and Imperial Oil.

The Indigenous communities will have a chance to invest in CVW through a special purpose vehicle when CVW raises funding.

Dubey expects a return in the 30 to 40 per cent range from a 20 per cent investment.

There are more Indigenous communities in the region, and CVW hopes to open the partnership to them as well in the future.

Developing a ‘license to operate’

Cementing CVW’s relationship with the Indigenous groups in Wood Buffalo is critical to the company’s plans, Dubey explained.

“It’s less so about the additional investment. It’s much more so about having their support. To be able to move a technology and to be able to build a new operation in the region, you need to earn the social license to operate.”

The partnership is giving him the confidence to approach oil sands operators and governments to say local communities want this solution.

He hopes to progress the agreement as soon as possible. CVW is ready to deploy commercially if oil sands operators give it approval, but the initiative of oil sand operators is the key factor, Dubey said.

The company will also need federal and provincial government support for deployment, he explained. A hydrocarbon concentrator on a site that produces 150,000 barrels of oil per day will cost approximately $400 million.

CVW’s technology

The company’s technology takes the froth treatment tailings from oil sands processing and applies solvent extraction and distillation to extract the hydrocarbons. Most of the bitumen and solvent, approximately two million barrels of oil, and 300,000 barrels of solvent per site can be recovered annually, according to CVW.

It also eliminates the majority of fugitive emissions from tailings ponds, abating between 380,000 tonnes to 850,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per site. The tailings can also be put through a mineral separation plant to extract titanium and zircon concentrates.

Revenue can be generated from recovering the hydrocarbons and solvent, carbon tax savings and operational efficiencies such as reducing water consumption.

For Indigenous communities, CVW’s solution can address the problem of volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere that are linked to higher cancer rates and respiratory issues, and tailings ponds that impact the local environment and health, Dubey said.

“From a health and safety perspective, and an environmental perspective, that is a transformational change to how the oil sands operators are conducting business today,” he said.

CVW does not yet have a commercial deployment. But the technology is able to demonstrate lower capital costs, higher returns and more community support than two years ago, Dubey said.

It is also looking to help other cleantech companies with their capital and commercialization challenges through investment and exposure to their solutions.

Dubey said CVW has built a pipeline of companies interested in the structure, and expects in next few months to unveil its strategy to be a “diversified cleantech platform.”

Industry Events