Exxon Mobil has unveiled its strategy to emerge as a prominent lithium producer, a crucial element in electric vehicle (EV) batteries. The initial phase of North America lithium production is underway in southwest Arkansas, renowned for its substantial lithium reservoirs. This innovative product will be introduced under the name Mobil Lithium, leveraging the extensive technical collaboration legacy between Mobil and the automotive sector.

ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions president Dan Ammann said: “Lithium is essential to the energy transition, and ExxonMobil has a leading role to play in paving the way for electrification.

“This landmark project applies decades of ExxonMobil expertise to unlock vast supplies of North American lithium with far fewer environmental impacts than traditional mining operations.”

In the beginning of 2023, ExxonMobil secured the rights to 120,000 gross acres of the Smackover formation in southern Arkansas. This area is recognised as one of the most abundant lithium resources of its kind in North America.

Situated in a region with a historical legacy in oil and natural gas production, southwest Arkansas boasts well-understood geological characteristics. ExxonMobil is collaborating with local and state authorities to facilitate the successful expansion of Arkansas’ emerging lithium industry.

Employing conventional oil and gas drilling techniques to access lithium-rich saltwater from reservoirs approximately 10,000ft underground, ExxonMobil will employ direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology to separate lithium from the saltwater. Subsequently, the lithium will undergo onsite conversion to battery-grade material. The residual saltwater will be reintroduced into the underground reservoirs. The DLE process yields fewer carbon emissions compared to hard rock mining and demands significantly less land.

Lithium plays a vital role in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, crucial components utilised in electric vehicles, consumer electronics, energy storage systems, and various clean energy technologies. The projected surge in demand for lithium is substantial, with expectations of a quadruple increase by 2030. Notably, the majority of current lithium production occurs outside of North America.

The company has set its sights on initiating its inaugural lithium production in 2027 and is actively exploring expansion possibilities on a global scale. By the year 2030, ExxonMobil‘s objective is to generate a lithium output sufficient to meet the manufacturing demands for well over a million electric vehicles (EVs) annually. Ongoing discussions with potential customers, including EV and battery manufacturers, are integral to this strategic initiative.