Lithium is among the most important elements in the new global economy. Its importance, meanwhile, will be greatly elevated as the world moves more and more toward electric vehicles, which require a considerable amount of the stuff to function.
So I think you can understand why Magnolia, Arkansas — once a locus of heavy oil drilling activity — is feeling pretty excited right about now:
These days, companies in the area [of Magnolia] aren't looking to find more oil — they are instead prospecting for lithium, a metal that is increasingly prized around the world as an essential ingredient in electric-vehicle batteries.
If the U.S. is to ease its dependence for lithium on other countries such as China, it may need this quiet corner of southwest Arkansas to lead the way.
That would certainly be good for business! Exxon, for one, is reportedly planning to build "one of the world's largest lithium processing facilities" in the area. Multiple other companies are also looking to start exploration there.
Lithium miners are hoping to exploit a geological feature known amusingly as "the Smackover formation," named after another small Arkansas town. The brine in this formation contains lithium which developers think they can extract from the solution at a profitable rate.
Ironically, though the lithium deposits could help fuel a renaissance in Magnolia, residents who spoke to the Wall Street Journal "said they couldn't see themselves driving an [electric vehicle]." It's a rural Arkansas town, you know.
Nevertheless, one townie said bluntly:
"I don't mind them parking there."