AMLO: Mexico Will Not Grant Lithium Concessions
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AMLO: Mexico Will Not Grant Lithium Concessions

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Paloma Duran By Paloma Duran | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Wed, 10/13/2021 - 08:43

The Mexican government will reject any request for lithium concessions by private companies, even if congress does not approve President López Obrador’s electricity reform, which seeks to give the state exclusive control over future of the white metal. Furthermore, industry experts believe that Mexico will not become a world leader in lithium production.

López Obrador announced that even if his electricity reform is not approved by congress, for which it requires a supermajority, his government has the power to reject any request for lithium concessions by private parties. “We will deny any request for a concession to mine lithium and we have the power to do so. We want this to be established  in the constitution, lithium belongs to the state.”

López Obrador emphasized that lithium deposits, which are now considered one of the most strategic metals for future industries, needs to be developed exclusively by the Mexican government. “Previous governments authorized too many concessions, while private companies took advantage of Mexico and left Mexicans without opportunities,” said the president. 

However, according to experts, Mexico is far from being a world leader in lithium production. Worldwide there are a total of 18.91 million tons of lithium reserves. Australia, Chile and China have 81.2 percent of the reserves and 86.5 percent of its production, according to the Statistical Review of World Energy 2021. Meanwhile, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, the US and Zimbabwe have 20.5 percent of the reserves and 12.8 percent of its production. The remaining percentage, which is 2.0 percent of reserves and 0.6 percent of production, is found in other parts of the world.

"With this new information provided by the Statistical Review of World Energy 2021, it cannot be guaranteed that Mexico is a lithium powerhouse. Much information is still missing, and it should be explored with a significant investment of resources in order to have data that tells us if there really is potential, "said Karina Rodríguez, a mining specialist.

Lithium can be found in rocks, brines, oil wells, geothermal fields, clays, and oceans. However, so far only brines and rocks have proven to be viable methods. In Mexico, there are currently 11 localities with lithium in sediments, 24 with brines and 22 with rock, according to the Mexican Geological Service (SGM).

Currently, the most developed  lithium project in the country belongs to Bacanora Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium in Sonora. The proven and probable reserves are 243M tons, equivalent to 4.5M tons of lithium carbonate equivalent. Mining Technology recently said that it will likely be the largest lithium mine in the world.

However, experts say that just because one project has high potential does not mean that the rest have it. "A single deposit will not give us the leadership in world production. Our president said that we have the largest deposit in Latin America, but unfortunately it is already confirmed that Mexico is not considered as one of the big (lithium) countries," said Patricia Vivar, mining specialist.

Photo by:   Gobierno de México

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