Phase 1A is a commercial direct lithium extraction facility proposed to be located at the LANXESS South Plant, in US. (Credit: Aariuser I/Wikipedia)
Standard Lithium has selected the Lithium Selective Sorption (LSS) process as the Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) process for the project. (Credit: STANDARD LITHIUM LTD.)
Demonstration Plant Project site. (Credit: STANDARD LITHIUM LTD.)

Phase 1A is a commercial direct lithium extraction facility proposed to be located at the LANXESS South Plant, approximately 8 miles southwest of the City of El Dorado in Union County, Arkansas, USA.

Standard Lithium fully owns and operates the project.

Phase 1A is proposed to process the tail brine from the LANXESS South Plant.

Phase 1A development includes commercial agreements, equity participation and phasing governed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in February 2022 with LANXESS, a subsidiary of LANXESS AG.

LANXESS, a specialty chemicals company, has exclusive brine extraction rights for 149,442 acres which is contained within three brine production units, known as the South, Central, and West Brine Units.

The total capital cost, including contingency, to construct the project is estimated at $365m.

A Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) and Front-End Engineering Study (FEED) for Phase 1A of the LANXESS property project commenced in September 2022.

The DFS was completed in 2023 and the Final Investment Decision (FID) is scheduled in the first half of 2024, with expected first production in 2026.

Location Details

The Project Facility is proposed to be constructed to the East of the existing South Plant bromine extraction facility, on leased property, owned by LANXESS Corporation.

Phase 1A Project Capacity

The project’s Proven and Probable reserves were estimated from the Measured and Indicated Resources based on the forecast operating capacity of the South Plant brine supply and disposal network projected for a 25 and 40-year period.

 The Phase 1A project is estimated to produce approximately 5,400 tonnes per annum (TPA) of battery-quality lithium carbonate over a 25-year operating life, producing 135,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) from the LANXESS South Brine Unit.

Based on the Proven and Probable Reserves, the Phase 1A project is estimated to produce 208,000 tonnes of LCE over a 40-year life.

Geology and Mineralisation

The Smackover brine used for lithium extraction by the Phase 1A facility will originate from the LANXESS Tail Brine system delivered from the South Brine Unit supply well network and South Plant bromine extraction operation.

The Smackover Formation is subdivided into Upper and Lower intervals.

The Upper Smackover interval is the development target for the Project and has been subdivided into the Reynolds Member oolite, an oolitic limestone, and the Middle Smackover.

The Lower Smackover interval, also known as the Brown Dense, is composed of dark, dense limestone with argillaceous bands.

Phase 1A Lithium Recovery Method

The feed Brine will be supplied to and from the project facility via two new fibreglass pipelines connecting the facility and the existing South Plant Tail Brine system.

The Phase 1A project includes facilities required for brine pre-treatment, direct lithium extraction, effluent brine handling, chemical softening, ion exchange, lithium chloride concentration, lithium carbonate production, product drying, milling, and packaging.

Standard Lithium has selected the Lithium Selective Sorption (LSS) process as the Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) process for the project. LSS is a Koch Technology Solutions, LLC (KTS) proprietary technology to extract lithium ions from bromine directly depleted pre-treated Smackover brine.

Standard Lithium commissioned a Demonstration plant at Lanxess’ South Plant facility in May 2020 and the LSS DLE process has been in operation at the Demonstration plant since October 2022.

The LSS process uses fixed bed adsorption with a lithium-selective solid resin, based on aluminium hydroxide copolymer, a resin material with elution by freshwater rather than an acid strip.

After the lithium is extracted from the brine, the effluent brine is returned to the LANXESS facility for reinjection into the Smackover Formation through existing injection wells.

Eluate obtained from the LSS process is concentrated purified and subsequently converted into battery-quality lithium carbonate.

The produced lithium carbonate will be dried in an indirect-steam heated dryer, cooled, crushed, and conveyed for packaging. The battery-quality lithium carbonate is then loaded into 500 kg or 1,000 kg bulk bags, palletized, and shipped to potential customers after sampling and laboratory analysis.

Phase 1A Infrastructure

Natural gas required for operations will be delivered by Energy Transfer from their existing supply pipeline located north of the South Plant via a short dedicated interconnecting pipeline constructed and operated by the Project.

Power will be supplied to the facility by Entergy via 115kV El Dorado Upland Substation which is located to the east of the facility.

The project proposes the construction of two new Underground Injection Control Class I non-hazardous injection wells for disposal of any excess barren brine.

Contractors Involved

Front End Engineering Design (FEED) and Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for Phase 1A was awarded to Optimized Process Designs (OPD), a Koch-owned business based in Katy, Texas.

OPD engaged Arizona-based M3 Engineering to provide additional specialist process and chemical engineering expertise about Phase 1A.