In a further update to its commercial development activities in El Dorado, Arkansas, Standard Lithium (TSXV: SLI) said it has now successfully commissioned the hydroxide pilot plant that it will test as one of the technology options for lithium production at its South West Arkansas project.
The hydroxide pilot plant was designed and constructed by a third-party global water and process technology vendor earlier in 2022. The technology is housed in a self-contained unit and takes the lithium chloride feed produced by the company’s existing direct lithium extraction (DLE) demonstration plant; it then converts this feed directly into a lithium hydroxide solution using a novel ion-exchange process.
The lithium hydroxide solution generated by the hydroxide pilot plant will be sent offsite to another location operated by the third-party vendor to complete evaporation and crystallization work to produce battery-quality lithium hydroxide. This hydroxide pilot will be operated at the South West Arkansas project location for several months.
“The successful installation and commissioning of this hydroxide pilot is another example of the company’s approach to using novel technological solutions to build a new generation of lithium plants in North America. The testing and operation of this pilot gives our design team and project partners greater flexibility when we come to design the commercial plant at our South West Arkansas project,” Dr. Andy Robinson, president of Standard Lithium said in a media statement.
To the company’s knowledge, the project location at Lanxess’ South plant in Arkansas is currently the only location in North America where lithium is continuously being extracted from brine using a modern DLE process and being converted into both lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.
In the meantime, with sights set on expanding its resource holdings, Standard Lithium has also been conducting an extensive geological, geochemical and geophysical review of large regions of the Smackover Formation, which is located west of the South West Arkansas project. The company and its contractors are currently redrilling an existing production well deeper into the Smackover Formation.
Additionally, the front-end engineering design (FEED) and definitive feasibility study (DFS) work for Standard Lithium’s first commercial project is also fully underway. The project – known as Phase 1A – contemplates processing the brine that is currently being handled by Lanxess at its South facility, where the company’s continuously operating pre-commercial DLE demonstration plant is located. The results of the FEED study will be summarized in an NI 43-101 DFS report during the first half of 2023.
“Our first 1A project at Lanxess’ South plant is intended to be the first of many Standard Lithium plants in the region, and as a result, we are working to actively expand our resources in a strategic manner to capture the highest quality brine assets available in the Smackover,” Dr. Robinson said.
“Based on the successful operation of our DLE plant, and our knowledge of extracting lithium from the Smackover brines and producing battery-quality lithium products, our resource team and our Smackover Formation experts have spent almost 2 years identifying key areas in the Smackover Formation that we believe are the most prospective for large-scale, high-quality lithium brine resources.”
Shares of Standard Lithium shot up 4% by 12:35 p.m. ET on the TSX Venture Exchange. The lithium development company has a market capitalization of approximately C$822.8 million ($604m).