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EV revolution sparks underground mineral 'gold rush' for oil and gas companies

Oil and gas giants such as Chevron and Exxon are “actively exploring” options for lithium mining

Electric Vehicle
Electric Vehicle | Shutterstock

September 15, 2023 9:05am

Updated: September 15, 2023 9:05am

American oil and gas companies are escalating operations to extract brine, an underground solution that is used  a source of lithium, the metal used for electric vehicle rechargeable batteries.

Earlier this year, Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods said the company is “actively exploring” options for lithium mining and U.S. oil giant Chevron is also exploring the lithium route, according to Bloomberg news.

Another report from Energy Wire, cobalt and graphite lithium and nickel demand is skyrocketing as production of EVs increase.

While some financial experts have suggested the demand for EVs is not panning out for Detroit, and that it will cause heavy job losses in the oil and gas sector, others have said it could create more jobs.

But sales are also a potential issue as consumers continue to focus on fuel driven engines.

CNBC’s Brian Sullivan has repeatedly reported on the high price and lack of EV sales, and a June 11 article of 24/7 Wall Street argued, “Americans Won’t Buy EVs.”

Chevron told E&E News in a statement that the new mining technology to extract lithium would “operate more efficiently, lower carbon intensity and launch viable new businesses.” 

There are environmental and health concerns however as some have suggested that extracting metals include water pollution as a result of conventional mining, greenhouse gas emissions from the gasoline-burning machinery, and also respiratory issues for nearby communities, according to

The potential dangers of lithium are extremely toxic and studies have shown that even conventional mining can emit a high volume of carbon.

MIT’s Climate Portal says that mining one metric ton of lithium can result in emitting 15 times that same volume of CO2.

During the past decade, there have been a growing outcry from the American left to move the automotive industry away from oil and gas engines and toward electric vehicles.

That movement got a boost with the Biden administration’s policies and even California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ambitious push to have the Golden State go all EV by 2035.

“We're going to transition to an electric vehicle future made in America—and it will protect and expand good union jobs,” President Biden tweeted on Tuesday.

In an interview with John Solomon’s Just the News, U.S. Oil and Gas Association President Tim Stewart told reporter Charlotte Hazardthat the transition to electric vehicles will be a long one. 

“Speaking as the owner of an electric vehicle myself, I can tell you that it's going to be a very, very long transition,” Stewart told the JTN reporter.

"The charging infrastructure anywhere outside of a major metropolitan area is so weak and undependable,” he added. “Those early EV adopters now find themselves in the trough of disillusionment where the EV promises have not come to fruition. There are 286 million passenger vehicles in the U.S. today. 

"We can't even support the 2 million EV's on the road right now, let alone the four million semi-trucks that keep us fed and clothed and supplied each day. Fortunately my industry's going to be around for a long, long time to support this transition if it ever happens at all.”

In a separate report from Fox Business News. the nationwide news network said a deposit of lithium was discovered along the Nevada-Oregon border.

Fox reported that the newly discovered deposit may be one of the world’s largest, which could impact the future of U.S. EV manufacturing.