Bolivia, Chile and Argentina are located at the top of the “lithium triangle”, a region containing nearly 56% of the world’s resources of this metal, according to the most recent figures from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Mexico has no commercial lithium production but has potential deposits which, if economically viable, could propel it to the rank of major producer.
Last month, its Congress passed a bill to nationalize the metal, tightening control over strategic mineral resources, with Lopez Obrador saying he would review all metal mining contracts.
Nearly a dozen foreign companies in Mexico hold active mining concessions, including permission to prospect for lithium, including the country’s most advanced project, Bacanora Lithium, which is controlled by Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium Co.
An arm of the International Chamber of Commerce has argued that the law nationalizing the country’s future lithium industry violates trade obligations and could prove costly for the government if mining companies seek to recoup their losses.
The metal has seen a price spike since early last year amid a global push towards electric modes of transport, driving huge demand from automakers and battery makers to bolster supply.
“Chile is already participating in Latin American initiatives for cooperation in the exchange of knowledge, experience, science and technology, and in this sense we are willing to participate in initiatives that bring our peoples closer together,” he said. said the Chilean Minister of Mines, Marcela Hernando. Reuters.
Chile has the third-largest lithium reserves in the world and is the second-largest producer, while neighboring Bolivia has virtually no production despite having more resources than any other country, according to USGS data.
For its part, Argentina is the world’s fourth largest lithium producer and is seeking to accelerate its development, hampered for years by bureaucracy, high tax rates, galloping inflation and currency controls.
(By Valentine Hilaire, Anthony Esposito, Fabian Cambero, Agustin Geist and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Marguerita Choy)