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Standard Lithium launches new pilot project

Lithium mining tech company Standard Lithium (Standard Lithium Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials TSXV:SLI) is embarking on a new pilot project involving carbon capture and storage, a move which the company says could help optimize its processes for lithium extraction. 

Lithium ion batteries are crucial to the world’s movement away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable energy future, and so the mining technology used to extract the mineral has become a closely watched corner of the tech landscape. 

Enter Standard Lithium who last year cut the ribbon on a new extraction facility in El Dorado, Arkansas, which recovers lithium from tail brine, a by-product of bromine production carried out in the state. Standard Lithium’s LiSTR process is said to not only be faster and more efficient in recovering lithium but also resulting, through conversion from lithium chloride into pure lithium carbonate, in a better, more pure form of the mineral that the company calls “better-than battery quality” lithium carbonate.

Now, SLI has announced it will fund a pilot project in collaboration with Norwegian tech company Aqualung featuring its Aqualung Carbon Capture AS, which selectively extracts CO2 from carbon-burning energy sources and produces a CO2 gas stream for sequestration or reuse. For the Arkansas project, Aqualung will install its tech at a natural gas processing site owned and operated by Mission Creek Resources and, once the CO2 is captured, Standard Lithium intends on using it in R&D looking at the potential use of CO2 within its lithium extraction processes. 

“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Aqualung and Mission Creek on this exciting project; the future of the lithium industry rests on being able to produce sustainable battery-quality chemicals with the lowest carbon footprint in jurisdictions where their production is wanted and needed,” said Dr. Andy Robinson, President and COO of Standard Lithium, in a September 14 press release. 

“We feel that successful proof of this carbon capture technology in Southern Arkansas may demonstrate another important technological step towards making the Gulf Coast region an industry-leading producer of sustainable lithium chemicals,” Dr. Robinson said.

Standard Lithium’s share price has been on a tear this year. Countries around the globe have been setting electric vehicle targets and calling for the development of more EV and battery tech and thus interest in lithium mining has grown in response to the growing demand for the mineral. In SLI’s case, the stock went from about $1.30 last September to $4.00 by mid-January 2021 and then up to a high of $10.50 by August. The stock has pulled back since and is currently trading around $8.25 per share.

The company opened its Arkansas extraction plant last September at a bromine production plant owned by LANXESS, using the production’s tail brine and thereby foregoing the need for evaporation ponds and creating an environmentally friendly alternative use for the brine. By March of this year, Standard Lithium had completed a successful conversion of its extracted lithium chloride into 99.985 per cent pure lithium carbonate using OEM technology via wastewater treatment company Veolia Water Technologies in Plainfield, Illinois.

Now, the company has begun a Preliminary Economic Assessment for the production of lithium hydroxide from its TETRA brine resource property in Arkansas. 

“We continue to evaluate and accelerate our lithium brine project development activities in Southern Arkansas. The TETRA project is a very high quality resource with excellent lithium grades, reservoir characteristics and existing infrastructure,” said Dr. Robinson in a May 17 press release.

“We have an experienced integrated technical team in place, led by NORAM, that will deliver a PEA that demonstrates the immense value it contains. This work will continue Standard Lithium’s mission of combining technological improvements with the highest quality lithium brine assets to deliver the next generation of sustainable lithium products in North America,” he said.

Standard Lithium closed this past December on an oversubscribed public offering of approximately 15.7 million common shares at $2.20 per share for aggregate gross proceeds of about $34.5 million, with the company using the funds for ongoing work with the LANXESS project and the LiSTR plant and for working capital and general corporate purposes. The offering was lead by a cornerstone investment from the ESG-focused BNP Paribas Energy Transition Fund.

On the new carbon capture and storage project, Aqualung CEO Erik Mathiesen said in a press release, “We are very pleased to partner up with Standard Lithium and Mission Creek on this important pilot project.”

“Aqualung seeks to take an active role in the industrial energy transition with our high-performing, low cost, light footprint all-natural process for capturing CO2. This project will prove the unique second-generation membrane technology’s contribution within an important business area in the circular economy,” Mathiesen said.

Disclaimer: Standard Lithium is an annual sponsor of Cantech Letter.

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About The Author /

Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.
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