What is bromine used for?
We extract the bromine from a salt spring at a depth of a good two kilometers. The natural reservoir here in South Arkansas is the second largest in the world. Bromine and bromine-based intermediates are used in the electrical and electronics industries, construction industry and oil and gas industry, to name just a few of their uses. Our products are thus connected to many aspects of daily life.
How many employees work for LANXESS in El Dorado?
With 12 people at the West plant, we are the smallest LANXESS team at the site. There are 152 employees at the South plant and 275 at the Central plant. Most of us come from the region. The connection to the plants and the feeling of togetherness are really pronounced here. And there is also a good exchange between the plants; I’m not the only person who has worked in more than one.
LANXESS took over the plants in El Dorado from Chemtura in 2017. What has happened since then?
Due to significant investment by LANXESS, we have implemented several projects to improve our processes and modernize our plants since we became part of the company. We are very pleased that so much money has been invested. This shows that we are valued in the company. Currently, we are all observing with great interest how the pilot project with our partner Standard Lithium develops. The company has developed an innovative process for the extraction of high-purity lithium directly from our brines – of which, by the way, we process several million liters every day. A pilot plant has been set up recently, and if everything works out well, lithium extraction could become a new business pillar for us.
LANXESS and its employees are also very involved in community life. What do you think about that?
This is personally close to my heart. LANXESS has recognized how deeply rooted it is in the region, and promotes this through its social commitment – such as with educational projects at schools here. For example, we launched a STEM education program in 2017, pledging to donate USD 250,000 over five years to schools in our county. This makes me proud to work for the company.
Speaking of roots, Arkansas is considered a particularly nature-friendly state in the USA. What is special about the people and the region?
We just like being outside. Many colleagues meet up in their spare time to go fishing or for other outdoor activities. I’d say that the people here are very friendly, helpful, and are not afraid to “grab the bull by the horns” – both professionally and personally. Walking through town on a Saturday practically guarantees you an invite to a barbecue, because that’s what we love so much.