Standard Lithium Ltd., a pioneer in efforts to use brine from the Smackover Formation to create lithium battery products in Arkansas, announced Wednesday that samples from an east Texas well have yielded the highest confirmed levels of the element ever found in North American brine.
The Canadian company, which began drilling operations in Arkansas and east Texas recently, called the discovery of high-grade lithium by its expanded resource operation a guidepost in its quest to build a commercial lithium plant in south Arkansas. Standard Lithium, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has been refining lithium at modular test plants in El Dorado for two years.
Now, the company says, it has found a strong resource for a system designed to directly extract lithium from subterranean saltwater in the old oilfields of southwest Arkansas and east Texas.
“In Standard Lithium’s experience, the grade of lithium … has a meaningful impact on both capital expenditures and operating costs” in its extraction process, a news release from the company said. A higher grade of lithium typically results in lower overall costs, it said.
Brine drawn from a former oil and gas well in east Texas had an average lithium concentration of 603 milligrams per liter, what the company said to its knowledge was “the highest grade in North America.”
Company President and COO Andy Robinson called the results exciting and said the company was pleased to add the Texas well to its projects in the region.
“We have built a large and technically diverse team of Smackover specialists who have been working for almost three years to understand the most prospective areas to secure the highest quality brine resources in East Texas,” Robinson said in a statement. “Based on this work, the company acquired the rights to one existing well and to drill a new deep well.”
The high-quality brine is in the heart of the Gulf Coast region and “highly complementary” to the company’s existing lithium projects in Arkansas, Robinson said, adding that Standard will be building its presence in east Texas and releasing further technical reports defining project areas soon.
The company has been studying the Smackover Formation for three years, analyzing seismic data and core samples from previous drilling. It also drew knowledge from testing water from existing oil and gas wells in parts of the Smackover Formation in Texas. It identified areas likely to yield high-grade lithium brine and began leasing key project areas. “The greatest level of effort to date, and the company’s principal brine leasing focus, has been in the region close to the Arkansas and Louisiana state lines,” the news release said.
In the Texas project, a pre-existing well was re-entered by a workover rig and the well’s casing was perforated at various depths to obtain brine samples.
Samples from the existing well and the newly drilled well were analyzed by third-party laboratories and at the company’s analytical facility in El Dorado, the release said.
Standard Lithium is 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.