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El Dorado Lithium Project May Go West With 35-Mile Pipeline

3 min read

Standard Lithium Ltd., the Canadian company trying to produce lithium products for the battery market from south Arkansas’ sea of underground brine, is studying building a 35-mile pipeline from its pilot plants in El Dorado to leased brine lands in western Columbia County.

The Vancouver company, which has been testing the viability of its proprietary lithium extraction process for two years at a Lanxess chemical facility in El Dorado, announced on Monday that it had commenced at preliminary feasibility study at what it has dubbed its South West Arkansas Lithium Project south of Magnolia, including the brine pipeline and possible lithium production facilities near Magnolia.

The feasibility study came after a technical team’s positive assessment of the project’s economics and fundamentals, the company said in a news release. The study will consider an “integrated project” involving brine supply and injection wells, pipelines and a brine treatment infrastructure. Another possibility is building a direct lithium extraction plant and a lithium chloride-to-lithium hydroxide conversion plant along the lines of the two test plants in El Dorado. Those plants piggyback on the infrastructure Lanxess uses to extract bromine from the brine fields, including old oil wells and pipes.

Andy Robinson, Standard Lithium’s president and chief operating officer, mentioned a recent $100 million investment by a Koch Industries subsidiary in announcing the Columbia County feasibility test. “Following the key investment from Koch Strategic Platforms in Q4 2021, we’ve been able to grow our team with additional technical and management strength,” Robinson said in a statement.

The Vancouver startup has hired Hunt, Guillot & Associates of Ruston, Louisiana, as the lead consultant, providing a “multidisciplinary technical team.” The engineering firm was also involved in building Standard Lithium’s pilot plants in El Dorado.

“Now we can manage and drive multiple projects in parallel. The commencement of this comprehensive PFS is a testament to the company’s ambition to not only bring the first new commercial lithium project into production in the United States in six decades, but also to have a robust pipeline of subsequent projects that will serve the future demand for lithium chemicals in North America.”

Robinson said consultants, technical advisers and experts will complete the preliminary feasibility study. “We expect to complete the bulk of the work through the balance of 2022, with completion and reporting of the results of the PFS in Q1 2023,” he said.

According to the news release, efforts to support the PFS will include:

  • Reentry of existing wells across Standard Lithium’s brine lease area to obtain new representative brine samples from the Smackover Formation
  • Reperforation of existing wells, where feasible, to obtain discrete depth-specific brine samples from previously unsampled zones of the Smackover
  • Drilling of a new well in a key location to complete data coverage across the company’s brine lease area
  • Long duration pumping tests from selected wells to test hydrogeological and reservoir conditions for brine extraction and reinjection
  • Collection of large volume brine samples during pumping tests to allow the company’s South West Project brine to be processed through Standard Lithium’s proprietary LiSTR DLE process
  • Acquisition and reprocessing of additional 2D seismic data across and adjacent to the Generation of a new 3D reservoir model to determine an updated in-situ lithium resource, and extraction/reinjection production plans for the commercial facility
  • Completion of several Pilot Studies with technology partners to test the lithium chloride to lithium hydroxide conversion process at sufficient scale and duration. These studies will be completed using LiCl produced by the company’s operating LiSTR Demonstration Plant
  • Updated capital costs for a similar 30,000 tons per annum lithium hydroxide facility as previously contemplated by the PEA
  • Operating costs updated and benefited by the data gathered during 2+ years of continuous operation of the LiSTR Demonstration Plant in Union County
  • Fully updated project economics using revised future pricing for lithium hydroxide produced and delivered in North America
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