Innovative AI-lithium Play - Rapid Extraction Key to Unlocking US Lithium Resources
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NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Conflicting reports regarding Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway's recent alleged interest in new US-based lithium extraction technologies has shone a spotlight on a rising need for innovation. Beyond Buffett's group, there has already been a push from the lithium sector to innovate, from companies including Standard Lithium Ltd. (OTC:STLHF) (TSX-V:SLL), Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB), Livent Corporation (NYSE:LTHM), Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM), and Nemaska Lithium Inc. (TSX:NMX) (OTC:NMKEF).
Despite lingering doubts about the feasibility of the reported Berkshire Hathaway project to produce lithium from California geothermal wells, another project that's, further along, is priming for lithium production from the US brines. A planned joint venture involving a multi-billion-dollar global specialty chemical company and lithium experts Standard Lithium (TSX.V:SLL) (OTCQX:STLHF) based in Southern Arkansas may have the best chance to succeed.
After the announcement of their latest 802,000 tonnes lithium resource, Standard Lithium (TSX.V:SLL) (OTCQX:STLHF) now has a total combined Southern Arkansas lithium brine resource of 3,888,000 tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). To potentially recover all that lithium, the company has developed a proprietary lithium recovery process that eliminates the use of evaporation ponds, cuts processing time down to mere hours, and increases recovery efficiency to a level key to unlocking a huge overlooked lithium resource opportunity in the USA.
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"This combined project in Southern Arkansas positions us as the largest lithium brine resource in the US; a significantly expanding market that currently relies on imports of foreign lithium," said Standard Lithium CEO, Robert Mintak.
As international interests such as Germany and China jostle for position in other places like South America, securing North American lithium is highly sought after domestically. The economic impact could be massive, as Chilean exports alone rose to $949 million in 2018.
Utilizing access to extensive infrastructure, low-cost chemical reagents, and a highly skilled workforce, Standard Lithium (TSX.V:SLL) (OTCQX:STLHF) is an example of how one innovative developer plans to fast-track production of a new domestic supply of lithium in the USA.
Domestic Lithium: American-Made
Clarification was needed shortly after the Financial Times cited with people familiar to the project that a Berkshire Hathaway's BHE Renewables subsidiary had signed an agreement to allow extraction of lithium from its California geothermal wells. As well, the report claimed the company was also in talks with Tesla Inc.
Berkshire representatives soon after denied these reports. However, BHE spokeswoman Jessi Strawn followed up with an emailed statement affirming that the company is "evaluating the mineral extraction opportunity in the Imperial Valley" in southern California.
The FT report claimed that the venture could produce 90,000 tonnes per year—Which would technically surpass the annual lithium output from top global producers Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB) and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM).
For More Information on Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A., Click Here
Doubts immediately arose from industry analysts and investors, expressing skepticism that Berkshire could somehow succeed where others have failed. Earlier this decade, Simbol Materials tried to develop a Salton Sea lithium project, only to fail when cash reserves dried up.
Further along in the potential for innovative lithium development is Standard Lithium Ltd. (OTCQX:STLHF) (TSX.V:SLL), whose cutting edge, proprietary lithium extraction and AI driven crystallization technologies are drawing significant attention. Earlier this year, the company produced its first quantity of battery quality (>99.56% purity) lithium carbonate.
While many lithium projects take as long as a decade to reach production, Standard Lithium Ltd. (OTCQX:STLHF) (TSX.V:SLL) has likely shaved months, if not years off of its development time through technology and partnerships. Through its German partners, global chemical giant LANXESS, Standard Lithium has secured access to billions of gallons of lithium-rich brine—produced annually as a by-product of one of the world's largest bromine producers every year at their flagship project in South Arkansas.
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