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Exxon to Start U.S. Lithium Production

Exxon Mobil will launch a major lithium-drilling operation in Arkansas, it announced Monday, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: “Exxon earlier this year purchased 120,000 acres of a geological site in southern Arkansas called the Smackover Formation that is rich in lithium. The company will start producing battery-grade lithium at the site as soon as 2027 and aims to supply enough of the mineral to support the manufacture of 1 million electric vehicles annually by 2030.”

  • Exxon will use oil-and-gas-extraction techniques to access lithium-rich saltwater reservoirs thousands of feet underground.
  • The energy firm plans to invest $17 billion over the next four years in emissions-reduction endeavors, and it will focus on carbon capture, hydrogen and biofuels.

Why it’s important: The U.S. relies on South American oil imports for its lithium needs—“despite having some of the largest deposits of the mineral in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S currently has just one commercial-scale lithium production operation, in Nevada.”

  • Sales of EVs grew 50% in Q3 2023 compared to the same period last year.

​​​​​​​The NAM’s take: “Critical minerals are the foundation of modern technologies—from solar panels and wind turbines to semiconductors and advanced batteries,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris.

  • “The U.S. needs to deploy multiple strategies to ensure a steady, reliable domestic supply, including prioritizing development and breaking down permitting barriers. Manufacturers will continue leading the way, ensuring that world-leading products made in the U.S. can rely on domestic sources of raw materials.”   
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