ExxonMobil Initiates Phase I of Lithium Production in Southwest Arkansas to Bolster U.S. EV Industry

Nov. 15, 2023
ExxonMobil will use direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology to separate lithium from the saltwater, and the lithium will be converted onsite to a battery-grade material

ExxonMobil Corporation has begun the first phase of its North American lithium production in southwest Arkansas, an area known for housing significant lithium deposits. The subsequent product offer will be branded as “Mobil Lithium,” building on the partnership between ExxonMobil and the automotive industry.  


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


ExxonMobil acquired the rights to 120,000 gross acres of the Smackover Formation in southern Arkansas in early 2023, which is considered one of the most prolific lithium resources of its type in North America. The company is also working with local and state officials to enable the successful scale-up of Arkansas’ emerging lithium industry.


ExxonMobil will use direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology to separate lithium from the saltwater after using conventional oil and gas drilling methods to access lithium-rich saltwater from reservoirs about 10,000 feet underground.


The lithium will be converted onsite to battery-grade material, and the remaining saltwater will be re-injected into the underground reservoirs. The DLE process produces fewer carbon emissions as compared to hard rock mining and requires less land.


Lithium is an important component in producing lithium-ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicles, consumer electronics, energy storage systems, and other clean energy technologies.


“The project is a perfect example of how ExxonMobil can enhance North American energy security, expand supplies of a critical industrial material, and enable the continued reduction of emissions associated with transportation, which is essential to meeting society’s net-zero goals,” added Dan Ammann.


Currently, almost all lithium is produced outside of North America, and demand for lithium is expected to quadruple by 2030. ExxonMobil aims for its first lithium production in 2027 and is evaluating growth opportunities globally. It expects to produce enough lithium to supply the manufacturing requirements of about a million EVs per year by 2030.


“My administration supports an all-of-the-above energy strategy that guarantees good, high-paying jobs for Arkansans, and we’ll continue to cut taxes and slash red tape to make that happen,” said Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.