Plenty of discussion of lithium mining — which allows access to an essential part for batteries used in everything from smartphones to electric vehicles — focuses on the location of those mines. While lithium mining in China and South America has gotten plenty of headlines, mining in the U.S. is also a growing concern, including a controversial lithium mine in Thacker Pass, Nevada.
Thacker Pass isn’t the only location in the continental United States where lithium can be found; the nation’s lithium reserves are, in fact, higher than you’d expect. Which makes the news of a new lithium mine scheduled to open in Arkansas feel less like an outlier and more like a suggestion of what’s to come.
What is surprising, though, is the company behind the mine. As Clifford Krauss reports for the New York Times, Exxon Mobil is making a foray into lithium mining with the project. Exxon Mobil Low Carbon Solutions president Dan Amman told Krauss, “Electrification is going to be a major component of the energy transition.” Production at the mine is scheduled to begin in 2027.
In comments made to the Times, Exxon Mobil cited its experience in seeking out oil as skills that could be readily adapted to lithium mining — and went on to suggest that some former oil wells could eventually be turned into sites where lithium could be obtained.
It’s an ambitious plan, but it’s also encouraging to see a company known for oil and gas making a foray into a different kind of fuel technology. Infrastructure will be a big part of EV adoption, and efforts like this one can go a long way towards that goal.
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