The day after a rival company’s announcement of tests confirming significant lithium levels in south Arkansas’ brine, the first company to attempt pioneering a domestic lithium source for battery-making, Standard Lithium, has made key hires in project development in its drive to build a commercial plant in El Dorado.
Standard, of Vancouver, British Columbia, announced the management additions Wednesday along with news of progress toward a front-end engineering design for the lithium extraction and refinement plant. That plant, on the scale of a city water treatment plant, would be modeled on two pilot plants that have succeeded in making small batches of battery-quality lithium products for more than a year at the Lanxess South site in El Dorado. Standard Lithium has partnered with Lanxess to use its infrastructure of pumps and pipes that have for years leached another element, bromine, from the brine.
Standard Lithium also said it had reached a deal with one of its early scientists to study carbon dioxide sequestration possibilities in the lithium extraction process. Senior management members also disclosed that they had increased their share ownership in the company.
On Tuesday, Galvanic Energy of Oklahoma City had said certified testing of waters from its mineral leases on a 120,000-acre stake in Lafayette and Columbia counties showed it to be one of North America’s richest lithium resources. Galvanic President and CEO Brent Wilson said the brinelands may hold enough lithium to produce batteries for 50 million electric cars.
Not to be upstaged, Standard Lithium said Wednesday that engineering experts Jason Tielker and Angus Remfrey have joined the company as vice president project delivery and director of project delivery, respectively.
Tielker’s first task will be “delivering Standard Lithium’s first plant to commercial operation, currently being planned for the Lanxess South Facility,” the news release said. Remfry will focus on developing Standard’s South West Arkansas Project to the point where it merits a pre-feasibility study, and on driving “several current project development initiatives.”
Tielker and Remfry have spent decades managing energy, mining and infrastructure projects through design and construction, the release said, in North America and around the world.
Standard is reviewing deliverables related to the coming El Dorado commercial plant and hopes to award contracts for front-end engineering design and a definitive feasibility study no later than next month.
“Standard Lithium and our contractors have been working diligently through the Pre-FEED process to refine designs and work towards the award of the FEED and DFS contract,” Standard President and COO Andy Robinson said in a statement. “We have been adding several key internal resources and are delighted to have Jason and Angus on board to help us accelerate all our projects; they bring invaluable big-project delivery expertise that will be needed as we move towards construction on our first commercial project and continue to advance our pipeline of development projects.”
The company also announced new efforts to reduce carbon intensity, signing an agreement for Telescope Innovations Corp. of Vancouver to oversee novel research toward understanding how CO2 may be permanently sequestered as part of normal brine reinjection. After being stripped of lithium and bromine, the brine is pumped back underground.
Telescope Innovations, known as TELI, is led by Professor Jason Hein, the inventor of Standard Lithium’s proprietary lithium carbonate crystallization technology. The company also hopes to eventually consider how carbon dioxide might be used as a reagent option in the lithium process.
“Our engagement with Telescope Innovations is very timely,” Robinson said in the news release. “We have the potential to actively decarbonize our business and sequester significant quantities of CO2 deep underground as part of our future lithium extraction and brine recycling operations, and as such, a thorough understanding of the chemistry and technology required is paramount.”
The company also revealed that CEO Robert Mintak, Robinson and their CFO, Kara Norman, have exercised 1.4 million incentive stock options to raise their overall ownership by 950,455 common shares. The company received $1.3 million from the exercising of the options, it said.
Standard Lithium is jointly listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and the NYSE American under the trading symbol “SLI”; and on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol “S5L.”