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Saudi Arabia Seeks Lithium Supplies to Fuel Electric Vehicle Ambitions

Shifting Gears: Kingdom Looks Overseas to Secure Battery Metal

by Victor Adetimilehin

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, is revving up its electric vehicle (EV) ambitions and is actively seeking reliable sources of lithium, a key battery metal.

The kingdom’s push for EVs comes as the global energy sector grapples with the transition to cleaner energy sources. Saudi Arabia, reliant on oil revenue for decades, is seeking to diversify its economy and become a major player in the EV industry.

“Lithium is a critical component in electric vehicle batteries,” said Bandar Alkhorayef, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, in a recent interview. “We are committed to securing this vital resource to meet our EV goals.”

Domestic Efforts and Overseas Investments

While Saudi Arabia explores extracting lithium from seawater and brine water from its oil fields, these initiatives are in the early stages. The government has acknowledged the need for a two-pronged approach to securing a steady supply of lithium.

One approach is to ramp up domestic production. Last year, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Ma’aden, a state-owned mining company, established a joint venture, Manara Minerals, to invest in mining projects abroad.

“Manara Minerals is actively seeking opportunities to invest in lithium resources around the world,” said Alkhorayef. “We are confident that this strategy will ensure we meet our lithium requirements.”

Saudi Arabia is also looking towards South America to secure lithium supplies. The kingdom’s embassy in Santiago, Chile, recently contacted Chilean mining authorities about a potential investment delegation visit later this year.

While specific details remain unclear, this outreach suggests Saudi Arabia’s interest in Chilean lithium resources. Chile is a major lithium producer, and its vast lithium reserves are highly sought after by EV manufacturers worldwide.

The Road Ahead

Saudi Arabia’s shift towards EVs and its quest for lithium reflect the kingdom’s acknowledgment of the changing energy landscape. The success of its EV ambitions will depend on its ability to secure a steady supply of lithium, either through domestic production or strategic investments abroad.

Source: Mining.com


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