The Mexican government announced that the state-owned company, LitioMX, will explore lithium deposits in six states with an investment of MX$36.8 million. The Mexican government said that it is looking for target locations that have lithium in sufficient quantity and quality to be commercially feasible.
The states to be explored by LitioMX are Sonora, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Puebla, Jalisco and Durango. "The geological-structural-sedimentological contexts of 20 localities with possibilities of containing lithium deposits in the national territory will be investigated, with the support of geological cartography, previous works, satellite images interpretation, sampling, surveying and stratigraphic correlation," the project indicates.
Authorities emphasized that the new exploration studies will allow planning the technical feasibility to extract lithium in the future. Likewise, progress will be made toward Mexico's goal of becoming a lithium producing country, as economically viable potential deposits will be identified.
According to the US Geological Survey, Mexico has an estimated lithium reserve of 1.7 million t. The country has 82 lithium deposits across 18 states, with 13 located in Sonora, 12 in Puebla, nine in Oaxaca, eight in Nuevo Leon, seven in Durango and five in both Chihuahua and Tamaulipas. Coahuila, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas have three each, while Chiapas, Michoacan, Morelos, Sinaloa and Veracruz have one each.
The list of global lithium producers comprises only eight countries. Canada is the only country to have joined this group in the past 10 years. Nevertheless, the world’s biggest lithium reserves are located in Latin America. According to the 2021 USGS Mineral Commodity Summary, the lithium triangle of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia holds around 58 percent of the world's lithium.
While President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's idea is to put Mexico on the map as one of the major lithium suppliers, solid national production is not expected until 2028, according to Pablo Taddei, CEO of the newly established LitioMX. Meanwhile, experts have warned that the Mexican government will have to invest heavily and that it will take at least 20 years to begin extracting lithium. Despite the challenges, they believe that Mexico could take advantage of the electromobility transition since the country’s location and resources enhance its competitiveness, though these opportunities may be hampered due to state intervention and a lack of infrastructure and research. Another challenge is that Mexico's lithium reserves are in clay deposits, making extraction a difficult process.