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Standard Lithium CEO Robert Mintak gives an update on their Lanxess lithium project in El Dorado, Arkansas. The project will be a joint venture with German chemical company Lanxess, who currently operates three bromine plants in El Dorado.
Standard Lithium’s plan is to start with what’s already there: in this case, bromine waste brine. They’ve developed a proprietary direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology and plan to use it to extract lithium from waste brine left over from Lanxess’s bromine operations. Arkansas is an advantageous place to launch their technology. Bromine extraction has been ongoing for 60 years, so the regulatory environment is well-established. Water is plentiful and power is cheap (CAD$0.05/kw). Access is easy to local trained workers and chemical reagents, many of which are made in the same ZIP code as the bromine plants. And the waste brine reinjection process–which occurs after lithium has been extracted–is well known.
Once their technology is proven, Standard Lithium will decouple from the bromine process. Decoupling allows lithium brine extraction from areas where bromine has been depleted or where lithium is the primary resource. The direct lithium extraction technology is adaptable, with the potential to extract lithium carbonate, lithium chloride, lithium hydroxide or lithium metal, depending on current commodity prices. Decoupling will improve project economics and allow Standard Lithium to produce lithium according to demand. The market for lithium is in place as well. Lithium is processed for batteries in the United States, so the produced material doesn’t have to be exported. Additionally, the US-Mexico-Canada Free-Trade Agreement dictates that 75% of automobile components must be domestic. This includes batteries for electric vehicles, which require lithium.
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