Multiple car manufacturers, including Tesla and Ford, are seeking access to a potential lithium supply owned by Exxon Mobil.
The gas supplier is presently excavating a 10-acre area in Arkansas in the hopes of locating metal deposits. While it is not clear if its efforts have been successful, Exxon has joined other oil-industry giants in their attempts to break into the lithium business, partly to leverage the sudden rise in demand and partly over fears that the increasingly popular electric vehicle segment will soon limit the need for petrol production. The resource is a crucial component in battery cells, but few automakers, apart from Tesla, have acquired a steady, much less affordable, supply. A Bloomberg report published Monday claims that multiple car manufacturers and battery companies, such as Samsung SDI and SK On, are already in talks with Exxon to secure a stable source of lithium from the Arkansas site.
Although it eventually plans to mine 100,000 tons of lithium annually, Exxon has yet to decide whether to supply metal on its own or with a partner. The business is well-positioned to extract and refine materials independently, given its experience in drilling and mining for oil. During a call with analysts, company CEO Darren Woods remarked: “…extracting the lithium is very consistent with a lot of the things that we do in our refineries and chemical plants and, in fact, in some of our upstream operations.” However, an anonymous source told Bloomberg that the gas provider is nevertheless discussing collaboration opportunities with Albermarle Corp, a chemical manufacturing firm with a specialty in lithium.
Exxon’s efforts to secure a lithium supply are just beginning, but these early attempts are critical to the company’s long-term success. While electric vehicles are still a niche product, the broader transition to cleaner energy sources has shown no signs of slowing. Gas suppliers and car manufacturers will need to prepare for this shift if they hope to remain competitive.