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ExxonMobil to drill in Arkansas for electric vehicle lithium

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressing ExxonMobil's lithium drilling at a press conference Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via Associated Press/Photo by Thomas Metthe

ExxonMobil to drill in Arkansas for electric vehicle lithium

ExxonMobil plans to start drilling lithium for electric vehicle batteries and other electronics by 2027, the company said Monday. The company bought the rights to drill for lithium on 120,000 acres in southern Arkansas’ Smackover Formation earlier this year. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders praised the development for bringing “good, high-paying jobs for Arkansans.” ExxonMobil plans to use conventional oil-and-gas drilling methods to drill for lithium-rich saltwater, then use new technology to pull the lithium from the water. The company says the new process produces fewer carbon emissions than traditional hard-rock lithium mining. ExxonMobil aims to become a leading lithium supplier by 2030. With only one commercial-scale lithium production site in Nevada, the United States currently depends on Argentina and Chile for most lithium imports.

Why is an oil giant getting into electric battery production? Exxon has already been in battery production, inventing the rechargeable lithium-ion battery in the 1970s. President of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions Dan Ammann said Exxon is “paving the way for electrification,” describing lithium as “essential to the energy transition."

Dig deeper: Read John Dawson’s report in WORLD Magazine on ExxonMobil’s recent merger with Pioneer Natural Resources.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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