Firm Claims Texas Well Holds Highest Lithium Concentrations in North America

Standard Lithium says the latest drilling project indicates an increasing trend of lithium concentrations in the Texas portion of the Smackover formation.

Drilling for lithium brine in east Texas.
Source: Standard Lithium

Standard Lithium reported this week that its drilling program in east Texas discovered significant concentrations of lithium-grade brine. Independent testing of wellbore fluid samples taken from an upper bench of the targeted Smackover formation registered a lithium concentration of 806 mg/L, a level that the mineral exploration company said it believes represents a new North American record.

The discovery is part of a three-well project that Standard Lithium said suggests there is “an increasing trend” of subsurface lithium concentrations moving west from Arkansas, which up to now, has been the center of efforts to extract mineral-rich brine from the Smackover. While still in a pre-commercial phase, these companies are all angling to become significant suppliers of a US-based battery manufacturing supply chain that is expected to emerge in the coming years alongside the rise of electric vehicle adoption.

Andy Robinson, president and chief operating officer of Standard Lithium, described the east Texas area, with an average grade of 644 mg/L, as a "globally significant lithium brine asset."

According to data shared by Standard Lithium, the average lithium concentrations reported by other project developers in Alberta and Nevada are 75 mg/L and 123 mg/L, respectively.

The latest operational update from the company also highlighted that the brine analysis shows its Texas wells hold significantly elevated concentrations of two other marketable commodities, potash (KCl) and bromine.

Standard Lithium, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, said it plans to reach a final investment decision next year on a $365 million facility capable of yielding an average of 5,400 tonnes annually of battery-quality lithium carbonate. The project would be the company's first commercial development, using wells with an average lithium concentration of 217 mg/L.

A subsequent proposed project in Arkansas is expected to produce at least 30,000 tonnes of battery-quality lithium hydroxide annually with an average lithium grade of 437 mg/L.

Given the parallels with oil and gas extraction, several large US upstream companies have recently signaled their interest in lithium brine recovery. ExxonMobil stands out as the biggest among them.

In July, during an investor conference, ExxonMobil’s CEO confirmed the company is actively pursuing business opportunities within the nascent sector. The statement followed media reports that the Houston-based supermajor discreetly acquired a lithium extraction company operating in Arkansas for $100 million before forming a production agreement with another.