Saudi Arabia Set to Securing Lithium from Oversees for its EV Ambitions

Saudi Arabia is exploring seawater and oil field discharges for lithium extraction

Saudi Arabia, heavily reliant on oil for its economy, is looking to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Why? The country noticed the global shift toward sustainable mobility and the rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs).

As per Reuters, the Kingdom is considering sourcing lithium from other countries to produce EV batteries. Moreover, efforts to secure domestic supplies are still in their early stages due to exploration, extraction, and processing challenges.

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef told Reuters in an interview:

“Lithium is a very important mineral that happens to be part of a very important part of the supply chain, especially for batteries,” 

Saudi Arabia is exploring seawater and oil field discharges for lithium extraction. It is a bold move from the Kingdom to meet the growing demand for lithium in the EV industry.

Nevertheless, two factors generally determine whether extracting lithium from seawater and oil field discharges is economically viable: 

  • The size of the deposits
  • The concentration of lithium in them

Currently, the country doesn’t have enough information to confirm if it has the appropriate size of deposits and concentration.

Last year, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Saudi’s leading mining company, Ma’aden, established a new company called Manara Minerals. Their goal is to invest in mining resources outside of Saudi Arabia.

Alkhorayef, responding to a question on international lithium investments, stated:

I’m confident that Saudi Arabia’s natural resource needs will be satisfied one way or another. Either through the products that we have in the country or through imports, be it Manara investing or other partners.

Saudi Arabia geological mapping project in the minerals-rich Arabian Shield region. (Source: Bandar Alkhorayef/ Twitter)
(Source: Bandar Alkhorayef/ Twitter)

Targeting Chile’s Mining Sector

Rodrigo Urquiza, the ministry’s head of international affairs, revealed that Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Santiago had initiated talks regarding investment opportunities in Chile’s thriving mining sector.

However, Chile’s Mining Minister, Aurora Williams, did not provide specific details regarding the minerals that might concern Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, Bandar Alkhorayef said he was unaware of discussions regarding Chile’s lithium licenses.

Whatever the outcome, it shows the country’s economic diversification and its aim to invest in the EV sector.