Standard Lithium Ltd. [SLL-TSX; STLHF-OTC-Nasdaq-Int. Designation; S5L-FSE] said Wednesday January 9 that it has produced its first quantity of battery quality (over 99.56% purity) lithium carbonate.
The battery quality lithium carbonate was produced at the company’s prototype lithium carbonate crystallization pilot plant operated by Saltworks Technologies Inc., at its facility in Richmond, British Columbia.
The crystallization pilot plant is deploying Standard Lithium’s proprietary technology. Information about its commissioning and first results were reported in a news release on December 12, 2018.
“We continue to be very pleased with the performance of our prototype pilot,” said Standard President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Andy Robinson. “Whilst we had previously made battery quality carbonate at bench scale using our proprietary technology, we consider it an important milestone that we can achieve the very same high levels of purity at the larger scale of our prototype pilot,” he said. “This has provided Standard Lithium, our technical team and our design partners with all the confidence needed to commence detailed design on the main crystallization pilot plant, and this work is now ongoing.”
Standard Lithium shares eased 7.50% or $0.09 to $1.11 on Wednesday to trade in a 52-week range of $2.61 and 80 cents.
Brines (in salt ponds) and spodumene (hard rock) represent the two main sources of commercial lithium production.
Standard Lithium is focused on unlocking the value of existing large-scale U.S.-based lithium brine resources that can be brought into production quickly.
It is working to achieve that goal at a time when lithium has emerged as a hot commodity due to its role as a principal ingredient in lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and mobile phones.
“There are brine projects that have been overlooked because previous operators have elected to apply conventional mining processes to them,” said Standard Lithium CEO Robert Mintak. Standard Lithium, by contrast, has developed a lithium extraction process that reduces the recovery time for extracting lithium from a number of years to as little as several hours.
The company’s flagship asset — the 180,000-acre Smackover Project — is located in southern Arkansas, the most prolific and productive brine region in North America.
On Wednesday, the company said the prototype crystallization plant was operated as a two-stage crystallization process. The initial solids produced from the first run (as previously reported Dec. 12, 2018), were resolubilized and crystallized a second time. The solids produced from this second run were then hot washed, filtered and dried. The resulting lithium carbonate crystals were a fine free-flowing powder and were over 99.56% pure.
Despite the fact that the synthetic starting solution had more impurities than are anticipated to be present in the solution the upstream process will produce, lithium carbonate purity targets were met, giving a measure of comfort that the crystallization process is robust.
Additional optimization is now being performed, and the technical team will be adjusting the composition of the input feed system so as to optimize how the two parts of Standard Lithium’s proprietary technologies work together.