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Lithium Price Slump? Exxon Says No Problem

The price of lithium may have fallen and Albemarle may consider them to be “unsustainable”, but Exxon isn’t giving up on its lithium expansion plans, Exxon’s lithium global business manager said in a Bloomberg interview.

Lithium suppliers have been reining in spending and even production as a slowing of EV demand collided with new lithium mine startups. Prices are off record 2022 highs by as much as 80%, but Exxon is insistent that its future in lithium is bright.

“We’ve seen a redoubling of efforts from customers to reach out to us to engage at the most senior levels of the corporation,” Exxon’s lithium global business manager Patrick Howarth told Bloomberg on the sidelines of an industry event this week, adding that potential customers “are changing their demand forecast, but their consistent theme is they need more lithium than they have today.”

Exxon’s plan for getting into the lithium space at a time when battery metals prices were sky high. Since then, lithium prices have careened off the cliff.

Exxon’s plans specifically involve extracting lithium from underground saltwater reservoirs in the Smackover Formation in Arkansas, utilizing a method not currently used at scale. While falling lithium prices have brought the viability of some lithium projects unviable, but Exxon is undeterred, armed with deep pockets filled with oil money.

According to Howarth, Exxon’s financial prowess could be precisely what sets Exxon apart and allows it to withstand price routes while it refines methods and completes its lithium projects. Other players in the lithium space have fewer funds to ride out a signficant downturn like the one we’re seeing now.

Exxon has forecast that it will be within the top 10 global lithium producers by 2030.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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