Compass Minerals says it has identified a lithium brine resource of around 2.4 Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) at its active Ogden, Utah, solar evaporation site, and it was in the process of selecting an “extraction technology partner” that could help leverage the resource.
Included within the 2.4 Mt LCE resource was an indicated lithium resource within the ambient brine of the Great Salt Lake of 2.32 Mt of LCE within the ambient brine of the Great Salt Lake, which, Compass says, can be accessed through the company’s existing infrastructure.
For over 50 years, Compass Minerals’ Ogden facility has leveraged the high mineral concentrations within the ambient lake brine from the North Arm of the Great Salt Lake to produce sulphate of potash (SOP), salt and magnesium chloride products. The Ogden facility is the largest operation of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, according to the company.
Compass Minerals say it is now undertaking a strategic evaluation to assess development options available to service growing US domestic lithium market demand while maximising the long-term value of its lithium resource.
Kevin S Crutchfield, President and CEO, said: “We are aggressively evaluating multiple paths forward for this significant lithium brine resource to optimise shareholder value, in parallel with a reassessment of our current capital allocation strategy.
“In a market hungry for domestically-sourced lithium produced with minimal environmental impact, we believe a sustainable and readily available lithium resource like we have defined at our operations on the Great Salt Lake could be a true differentiator for our company. We look forward to communicating the results of our strategic evaluation and the selection of an extraction technology partner as we identify the most advantageous path forward for Compass Minerals.”
The resource assessment estimates total combined indicated and inferred lithium resources of approximately 127,000 t of LCE within the interstitial brine (IB) held in the accumulated salt-mass reservoirs at Compass Minerals’ Ogden solar evaporation site. This is on top of the circa-2.32 Mt LCE resource within the ambient brine of the Great Salt Lake.
After an 18-month assessment of multiple direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology providers, including two separate and ongoing pilot projects to demonstrate successful lithium separation from the company’s existing brine resource, Compass is now in the late stages of selecting a DLE technology partner.
The company is targeting an annual production capacity of around 20,000-25,000 t of LCE of battery-grade lithium, with up to 65% of the future production derived from brine that has already been extracted from the Great Salt Lake and in varying stages of concentration within the company’s existing ponds.
“Lithium concentrations within the ambient brine of the North Arm of the Great Salt Lake range from 55 to 60 parts per million (ppm), while concentrations in the company’s pond-derived magnesium chloride product reach up to 1,000 to 1,600 ppm after three years in the solar evaporation process,” Compass explained. “The lithium concentration in the IB ranges from 205 to 318 ppm. As such, the company anticipates being well-positioned to serve the widely forecasted increase in domestic market demand for lithium.”
In addition, the company is engaged in third-party testing of conversion options to battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
By leveraging existing operational infrastructure, permits and pond processes at its Ogden facility, Compass believes it is uniquely positioned to capture the now-defined lithium resource with nominal incremental impact to the beds and waters of the Great Salt Lake. It has contracted Minviro Ltd to perform a formal life cycle assessment (LCA) of the company’s lithium development scenarios currently under consideration. Based on internationally recognised LCA standards, the Minviro assessment is expected to help quantify any environmental impacts associated with the development of this resource, with Compass expecting to leverage the findings of the LCA to identify ways to further minimise the project’s environmental footprint.