July 14, 2024
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Saudi Arabia, UAE National Oil Companies to Extract Lithium from Brine

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ national oil companies are planning to extract lithium from brine in their oilfields, aligning with efforts to diversify their economies and capitalize on the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs), according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters.

Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) are reportedly in the early stages of work to extract lithium, a critical mineral used in battery manufacturing.

The sources declined to provide details on the specific direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology that would be utilized.

DLE technology, although in its infancy, offers advantages such as avoiding the need for costly and environmentally challenging open-pit mines or large evaporation ponds, commonly used in leading lithium-producing countries like Australia and Chile.

Leveraging their expertise in handling oil brine and wastewater at oil production sites, Saudi Arabia and the UAE aim to tap into this emerging market.

Despite the economic uncertainty surrounding DLE technology, the oil-rich nations are strategically positioning themselves for future opportunities in the EV industry.

Saudi Arabia, in particular, has been investing billions to transition into an EV hub, evident in initiatives such as the establishment of the EV brand Ceer and the construction of an EV metals plant.

The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), aims to produce 500,000 EVs annually by 2030.

Additionally, Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden), the Gulf’s largest miner, is also working on extracting lithium from seawater.

According to Saudi Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer, ongoing research and investments in the kingdom show promising results, with advancements in extracting lithium, among other minerals, from oilfield discharge.

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