The plant, which is projected to produce 100-150 tonnes of lithium carbonate annually, will use the US company's technology with a solid sorbent material, bringing lithium out of tail brine that's a by-product of chemicals company Lanxess' bromine production operations.
It has been designed to process an input flow of 50 gallons per minute (11.4m3/hr) continuously. With an environmentally sound process, the use of evaporation ponds is eliminated, processing time is reduced from months to hours, and lithium recovery levels can be significantly increased.
It is also faster to process than traditional extraction methods, the company claimed.
"Standard Lithium is continuing to execute its disciplined development strategy separating ourselves from our peers by partnering with a global chemical company with real operational experience, deploying demonstration-scale proof-of-concept technology at an operating brine processing plant, and removing financing and off-take risks through our joint venture strategy," president and COO Andy Robinson said.
"Groundbreaking at the site is a key step in realising our rapid development timelines, and we look forward to providing more updates as this phase of the project moves towards commissioning."
The facility site is currently being levelled and graded in advance of the foundation and slab construction for the housing of the demo plant. That work is being managed by Louisiana firm Hunt Guillot & Associates; the company already completed its civil engineering and site utility connection works.
Standard Lithium CEO Robert Mintak noted that there has been no new lithium mine built in the US in more than 50 years.
"Breaking ground at our El Dorado site represents a major achievement towards changing that," he added.