Compass Minerals International, Inc., Overland Park, Kansas, United States, (NYSE: CMP), a leading global provider of essential minerals, has identified a lithium brine resource of approximately 2.4 million metric tons lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) at its active Ogden, Utah, United States, solar evaporation site, including an indicated lithium resource within the ambient brine of the Great Salt Lake.
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 sulfate of potash (SOP), salt and magnesium chloride products. The Ogden facility is the largest operation of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
Compass Minerals is currently undertaking a strategic evaluation to assess development options available to service growing U.S. domestic lithium market demand while maximizing the long-term value of its lithium resource.
“We are aggressively evaluating multiple paths forward for this significant lithium brine resource to optimize shareholder value, in parallel with a reassessment of our current capital allocation strategy,” said Kevin S. Crutchfield, president and CEO. “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 company has completed an initial assessment to define the lithium resource at Compass Minerals’ existing operations in accordance with applicable Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations, including subpart 1300 of Regulation S-K. The assessment estimates total combined indicated and inferred lithium resources of approximately 127,000 metric tons LCE within the interstitial brine (IB) held in the accumulated salt-mass reservoirs at Compass Minerals’ Ogden solar evaporation site. The assessment has also identified an additional indicated lithium resource of approximately 2.32 million metric tons LCE within the ambient brine of the Great Salt Lake, which can be accessed through the company’s existing infrastructure.
The company sustainably manages 160,000 acres of leasehold on the bed of the Great Salt Lake, together with held water rights, 55,000 acres of existing ponds and active mineral extraction permissions.
The company is evaluating the most efficient and sustainable means of extracting the lithium which accumulates through its current solar evaporation process and can be accessed through its existing leases and permits.
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 Minerals is in the late stages of selecting a DLE technology partner.
The company is targeting an annual production capacity of approximately 20,000 to 25,000 metric tons 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. 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 actively engaged in third-party testing of conversion options to battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The company expects to share more information on a selected DLE technology partner and other milestones as the project progresses.
Ongoing Commitment to Environmental Stewardship
By leveraging existing operational infrastructure, permits and pond processes at its Ogden facility, the company 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. Compass Minerals has contracted with Minviro Ltd. to perform a formal life cycle assessment (LCA) of the company’s lithium development scenarios currently under consideration. Based on internationally recognized LCA standards, the Minviro assessment is expected to help quantify any environmental impacts associated with the development of this resource. Compass Minerals expects to leverage the findings of the LCA to identify ways to further minimize the project’s environmental footprint.
As a longstanding operator and engaged stakeholder on the Great Salt Lake, environmental stewardship is core to Compass Minerals’ culture and success. The company’s Ogden facility is the largest SOP production site in the Western Hemisphere, employing a solar evaporation process to harvest SOP, salt and magnesium chloride from the lake’s naturally occurring brine. This technique involves pumping mineral-rich brine from the Great Salt Lake into large open ponds where the sun and wind evaporate the water leaving beds of naturally occurring, crystallized minerals. By harnessing the power of the sun, the use of carbon-based energy sources is minimized, while also reducing costs and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Jointly serving as strategic advisors in the company’s assessment of how best to optimize its lithium resource value are J.P. Morgan and Perella Weinberg Partners. RK Equity Advisors has advised Compass Minerals on the development of the lithium resource.
About Compass Minerals
Compass Minerals (NYSE: CMP) is a leading global provider of essential minerals focused on safely delivering where and when it matters to help solve nature’s challenges for customers and communities. Its salt products help keep roadways safe during winter weather and are used in numerous other consumer, industrial and agricultural applications. And its plant nutrition business manufactures products that improve the quality and yield of crops, while supporting sustainable agriculture. Additionally, its specialty chemical business serves the water treatment industry and other industrial processes. The company operates 16 production and packaging facilities with more than 2,000 employees throughout the U.S., Canada, Brazil and the U.K.