Saudi Arabia Aims to Secure Lithium for EV Ambitions


SaudiSaudi Arabia is making a significant push to source lithium from overseas as it aims to bolster its electric vehicle (EV) battery production and invest in the sector. This move aligns with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's ambition to diversify the kingdom's economy and establish Saudi Arabia as a hub for EV manufacturing.

"Lithium is a very important mineral that plays a crucial role in the battery supply chain, especially for EVs", said Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef during an interview on Sunday. "It's essential that we secure reliable sources of lithium," he added, speaking at the World Economic Forum's special meeting in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is in the early stages of exploring domestic lithium extraction from seawater and saline discharges from the kingdom's oil fields in collaboration with Aramco. However, the success of these initiatives remains uncertain at this stage. "There are some promising signs, but further investigation is required", said Alkhorayef. "To make any project economically viable, we must assess the size and concentration of deposits, and we lack conclusive evidence on these aspects".

Last year, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and the flagship mining company Ma’aden formed a joint venture called Manara Minerals to invest in mining assets abroad. This initiative demonstrates the kingdom's commitment to securing a stable lithium supply through international partnerships.

"I'm confident that Saudi Arabia's natural resource needs will be met, whether through domestic production or imports", Alkhorayef noted, referencing international investments in lithium. "This could involve Manara Minerals investing abroad or collaborating with other partners".

The Saudi Arabian embassy in Santiago has approached Chile's mining ministry to host a delegation from the Middle Eastern country later this year, aiming to discuss potential investments in Chile's mining sector. Rodrigo Urquiza, the ministry's head of international affairs, confirmed the interest in forging stronger ties between the two nations.

Chile's Mining Minister Aurora Williams, however, did not specify which metals may interest Saudi Arabia. Alkhorayef stated he was not aware of any ongoing discussions with Chile regarding its lithium licenses.

Saudi Arabia's efforts to secure lithium supplies and invest in EV-related industries highlight its strategic focus on transforming its economy through sustainable and forward-looking initiatives. By seeking international partnerships and exploring domestic options, the kingdom aims to play a major role in the future of EV manufacturing and technology.

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