EL DORADO, Ark. — El Dorado is leading the way in developing new lithium battery technology that will affect how it’s used worldwide.

Standard Lithium and Lanxess had a virtual ribbon-cutting today. This demonstration plant took three years to complete.

The plant will manufacture lithium ion batteries, an integral part electric vehicles.

Those who worked closely with the project say this plant is the first of its kind.

“People have been doing this in test tubes and its really small scale. This is the largest pure direct lithium extraction on the planet. No one has done this before,” says Robert Mintak the CEO of Standard Lithium LTD.

U.S. imports of lithium have nearly doubled since 2014 due in part to rising demand from Tesla and other companies.