This Arkansas Town Could Become the Epicenter of a U.S. Lithium Boom – by Collin Eaton and Benoît Morenne (Wall Steet Journal – July 20, 2023)

Companies such as Exxon Mobil plan to extract lithium from brine water to help power electric vehicles

MAGNOLIA, Ark.—Slipping a handgun into his belt, the mayor of this small town hopped out of his 1995 Ford pickup and went in search of further evidence of a new energy boom.

On the other side of a freshly painted gate, Mayor Parnell Vann pointed out a squat blue spire of valves, bolts and pressure gauges attached to a long-dormant well—a telltale sign someone means to bring it back to life. On the thick-wooded back roads, crisscrossing fields where oil drillers gave up long ago, Vann found two more similar wells that day.

These days, companies in the area aren’t looking to find more oil—they are instead prospecting for lithium, a metal that is increasingly prized around the world as an essential ingredient in electric-vehicle batteries. If the U.S. is to ease its dependence for lithium on other countries such as China, it may need this quiet corner of southwest Arkansas to lead the way.

Exxon Mobil a new player in the hunt for U.S. lithium, is planning to build one of the world’s largest lithium processing facilities not far from Magnolia, with a capacity to produce 75,000 to 100,000 metric tons of lithium a year, according to people familiar with the matter.

For the rest of this article: