Canada-based Standard Lithium has selected Ausenco Engineering Canada to carry out the definitive feasibility study (DFS) and provide front-end engineering and design (FEED) services for the South West Arkansas (SWA) project in the US.

Ausenco will design and develop technical solutions for the planned 30,000 plus tonnes per annum lithium hydroxide plant and associated infrastructure for the extraction facility.

Standard Lithium president and chief operating officer Andy Robinson said: “The selection of Ausenco for the SWA Project’s DFS and FEED was a critical next step for us to advance the Project and maintain development and construction timelines.

“Their practical experience in lithium brine projects, combined with our proven expertise of DLE in the Smackover, is expected to drive a successful Feasibility and FEED process, and we are pleased to work with a world-class engineering firm to guide the design of the SWA Project to deliver the next generation of lithium production in America.”

Located 24km west of the City of Magnolia in southwestern Arkansas within the Smackover Formation, the South West Arkansas project spans nearly 36,000 unitised acres.

South West Arkansas is said to be one of the world’s first commercial-scale direct lithium extraction (DLE) projects and claimed to have the highest-grade lithium brine resource in North America.

Following the completion of a feasibility study, construction is scheduled to commence in 2025 with the first production targeted in 2027.

According to the preliminary feasibility study (PFS) completed in Q3 2023, the South West Arkansas project can potentially produce up to 35,000 tonnes per annum of battery-quality lithium hydroxide over an operating life of 20 years.

The lithium project entails a total capital expenditure (capex) of $1.3bn.

Besides, the PFS reported after-tax net present value (NPV) of $3.1bn and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 32.8% for the South West Arkansas project.