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Standard Lithium Buys 118 Acres for $1.3B Plant

3 min read

Standard Lithium Ltd. of Canada has acquired a 118-acre tract in Lafayette County as a likely site for a $1.3 billion facility for producing battery-quality lithium hydroxide from the underground brines of south Arkansas.

The land is about 15 miles west of Magnolia and a few miles south of Lewisville along Arkansas Highway 29 and adjacent to Union Pacific’s rail line to Texarkana.

The company, which is also building a smaller lithium plant south of El Dorado in conjunction with bromine producer Lanxess AG of Cologne, Germany, praised the site for its proximity to the highway and rail tracks, as well as its proximity to a workforce skilled in drilling for petrochemicals and processing brine.

“The land, which lies to the south west of the SWA Project’s brine lease footprint, is ideally located,” Standard President Andy Robinson said in a news release. “This acquisition adds to our existing land options in the Project area and provides us with added design flexibility as we progress the project to the Definitive Feasibility and FEED phase.”

In project development, FEED is shorthand for front-end engineering design.

The parcel is timberland, and trees on part of the property have been harvested. The previous landowner will cut the remaining timber before the end of the year, Standard said. The company didn’t immediately identify the seller or the price it paid, but the acreage is the first land acquisition Standard has made in Arkansas.

The company announced last month that it hopes to start construction on what it calls its South West Arkansas project sometime in 2025. The estimated cost of construction, equipment and other expenses is $845 million, but Standard added a 20% contingency amount to the total. The all-in capital cost estimate is $1.274 billion.

The Lafayette County facility is expected to produce 30,000 tons of lithium products per year, which Standard says should sell for at least $30,000 per ton. Production is scheduled to begin in 2027.

Total domestic production of lithium products is now just $5,000 tons per year. China is the world’s largest producer.

The plant Standard is planning south of El Dorado will be a $365 million project expected to produce 5,400 tons of lithium carbonate per year. It will be an addition to Lanxess’ South brine facility and make use of the multinational chemical corporation’s vast infrastructure of brine wells and pipelines previously used to extract bromine, a chemical used in flame retardants and other products.

Standard expects to complete its FEED study and a definitive feasibility study on the Lafayette County project next year, and start construction in 2025. The company is backed by several subsidiaries of Koch Industries of Wichita, Kansas, the second-largest privately held company in the United States, behind Cargill.

Standard Lithium’s test facilities at Lanxess South have been producing Lithium products for several years, giving the company expertise on best practices for direct lithium extraction from brine, a departure from conventional production methods that rely on vast evaporation ponds take months to reach commercial concentrations of lithium, wasting millions of gallons of water in the process. Standard plans to use newly developed methods to extract lithium from the brine, and then pump the water back into the ground, thousands of feet deep.

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