Lithium Exploration Grows in Puebla
Puebla ranked first among the 17 states carrying out lithium exploration, with 307 samplings in 17 municipalities, three times more than those performed in Sonora, the entity with the most advanced private project in Mexico, according to the Mexican Geological Survey (SGM).
From all the samplings done, only seven were made in rocks and 300 in clay to determine if lithium exploitation is economically viable in these municipalities. San Luis Potosi ranked second in number of samplings (282), then Oaxaca with 256, Zacatecas with 228 and Sonora with 171.
Nevertheless, an investigation from Geocomunes about lithium projects in the country warns that Puebla registers a high hydrological risk. According to data published by the global project Aqueduct, the center and northern regions of Mexico are in a situation of high or extremely high hydrological risk, as the overexploitation of superficial and underground waters can cause great environmental risks.
According to Valentina Campos, Director, Institute for Environment Research, Universidad Iberoamericana de Puebla, and Francisco Sánchez, Scholar, Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), Puebla’s potential for lithium exploitation is rooted in potential reserves along a 2,500km area. Nevertheless, researchers called for an extensive analysis of the environmental costs this could have.
Flor de María Harp, Director, SGM, said last year that 66 of 82 locations throughout the country had been already evaluated for lithium concentration, while another 73 had been identified. From the 66 municipalities, eight are located in the states of Jalisco, Puebla and San Luis Potosi. The municipalities in Puebla are Oriental, Tepeyahualco, Chietla, Izucar de Matamoros, Tehuitzingo, Petlalcingo, Piaxtla and Chila de la Sal. Currently, 97,000ha in concessions have been handed over and 537,000 are in process for lithium extraction. Puebla is one of the three entities in the country with allocations in process for lithium exploration projects, with 982ha appointed in the Tlaxcuapan municipality.
Sánchez said that lithium offers an excellent opportunity for Puebla as it could create an economic hub and create jobs. Lithium could also transform the state into a leading manufacturing and mineral extraction state. However, all players involved must pay attention to the environmental impact lithium extraction could cause. According to Sánchez, Puebla is located on a volcanic belt, which increases the risk of overexploitation, might cause the formation of sinkholes and increases the risk of water, air and soil pollution due to the presence of mineral sediments.