Ribbon cutting

Bruce Sietz cuts the ribbon at Standard Lithium's demonstration plant near El Dorado.

Standard Lithium Ltd. on Monday marked the official commencement of operations at the company’s Arkansas LiSTR Direct Lithium Extraction facility, with a virtual ribbon-cutting and video walk-through tour of the plant.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, and local officials joined Standard Lithium CEO Robert Mintak and Lanxess Corp. CEO and President Antonis Papadourakis for the virtual event.

Standard Lithium CEO Robert Mintak said, “It was always our intention to do a physical ribbon cutting at the end of the commissioning stage but unfortunately that was not possible. The purpose of the virtual ribbon cutting is to highlight the efforts of individuals and teams that have brought the project to where we are today, an operating first-of-its-kind direct lithium extraction plant.”

CLICK HERE to see a 25-minute video of the event.

“On behalf of Lanxess, our Board of Management and the Plastic Additives Business Unit I would like to congratulate Standard Lithium and especially the project team for the fantastic job you have done to this point,” said Antonis Papadourakis, Lanxess Corp. president and CEO.

“We recently announced the formation of a group initiative for E-Mobility. We manufacture a number of specialty chemicals that modern battery systems cannot do without, such as phosphorous chemicals, hydrofluoric acid and flame retardants. As you could imagine, the commercial production of battery grade lithium, which is a key component in large scale lithium ion batteries, is also a crucial raw material for the desired expansion of Electric Mobility. Together with Standard Lithium we aim to use this demonstration plant to address this development and today we are one important step closer to realizing this goal.”

Hutchinson said, “In the two short years since Patty Cardin of Lanxess introduced me to the team of Andy Robinson and Robert Mintak of Standard Lithium, the company has moved from a big concept to building a working industrial scale demonstration plant for direct lithium extraction. This cutting-edge disruptive technology has the potential to put Arkansas on the global map for lithium, a critical mineral for the United States economy.”

The first-of-its-kind in the world Direct Lithium Extraction plant is installed at the company’s project partner Lanxess’ South Plant facility near El Dorado, Arkansas. LiSTR is an environmentally friendly technology that selectively extracts lithium ions from tail brine that is a by-product of existing bromine production facilities run by Lanxess in south Arkansas. When compared to the conventional methods for recovering lithium from brine, the LiSTR process provides many benefits:

-- Vastly reduced recovery time -- several hours versus as long as a year.

-- Significant efficiency gains – 90 percent recovery versus 40-60 percent.

-- Improved purity of the final product.

-- Unlocking of unconventional resources, Arkansas Smackover brines.

Planning for the project’s phased commercial development – with a target initial annual production of 20,900 tons of battery-quality lithium chemicals, roughly five times the current domestic production – is currently under way.

Today, the U.S. represents less than 2 percent of global lithium production and no new lithium mine has been built in the United States in almost 60 years. A Trump administration executive order named lithium among 35 “critical minerals” for which the government wants to boost domestic production and reduce its heavy reliance on imports.

U.S. imports of lithium have nearly doubled since 2014 due in part to rising demand from Tesla, SK Innovation Co .and others building battery plants in the country, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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