Lithium in Baja California Is a Long-term Project, Minister Says
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Lithium in Baja California Is a Long-term Project, Minister Says

Photo by:   Glenna Haug
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Fernando Mares By Fernando Mares | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Fri, 02/17/2023 - 16:32

Authorities of Baja California found lithium deposits and expressed their willingness to exploit them. Nevertheless, the local Minister of Energy said production in the near future is unachievable since the development process requires time. 

According to Baja California’s Minister of Energy, Kurt Honold, it is impossible to instantly extract the state’s lithium, as an entire production process needs to be set up first. According to Honold, the first step is that the state-owned LitioMx conducts studies on the potential lithium reserves, which are set to conclude in one year. Honold said the detected lithium reserves are located in the Cerro Prieto and Cañon del Diablo areas. However, production there is still far off. “We cannot know when we will extract lithium in Baja California, the government does not even know when it will be possible to extract it in Sonora,” he added. 

The Cerro Prieto and Cañon del Diablo deposits were discovered more than 20 years ago but, they became relevant only now that lithium is gaining steam as the key mineral for the energy transition. According to Bloomberg, the Cerro Prieto Deposit, owned by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), was studied by Pan American Lithium to determine the viability of reprocessing the salt deposit’s mineral, as CFE uses it to generate geothermal energy.

Cerro Prieto’s main advantage is that its lithium there can be extracted without requiring mining activity since it is found in brine, the waste from the steam used for power generation.

Honold said Baja California’s government is looking forward to developing an industry around lithium. The administration is already approaching companies with concessions to extract minerals like lithium, zinc, magnesium and iron to work together.

In the 70s, the Cerro Prieto deposit extracted both sodium and potassium chloride. This production was canceled in the 80s due to an economic crisis. Lithium can be found in evaporation lagoons as well as potassium chloride and sodium chloride. According to Eleuterio Palacios, Civil Engineer, the University of Tokyo, Cerro Prieto could be restarted with little investment, the only obstacle being the presence of calcium in the brine. Once calcium is separated from lithium, the mineral can be sold in the form of lithium carbonate.

Photo by:   Glenna Haug

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