Although the Mining Law reform banned the private sector from exploiting Mexico’s lithium resources, companies are still interested in participating in the supply chain. Amid these developments, some local governments are worried about land speculation in communities holding potential reserves. The governor of Puebla, Miguel Barbosa, declared he will monitor the situation to nip the practice in the bud.
According to the Mexican Geological Survey (SGM), there are 12 possible lithium reserves in Puebla. The potential presence of lithium in eight municipalities has caused concerns for both municipal and state authorities, which said that they would watch to prevent people from buying up land in the hopes that it will gain value, since Puebla is considered to be the second-largest Mexican in terms of lithium reserves. “Investors go and buy land and after that, they carry out activities to find this lithium. We will keep an eye on it along with municipal authorities,” Barbosa said.
Barbosa stated that his administration will not allow speculators to abuse the land’s integrity, nor interfere with the authority of so-called ejidatarios. Nonetheless, to date, there is no evidence of possible land speculation or malpractices on the land.
According to Barbosa, in the past, Puebla’s communities were subject to abuse regarding the exploitation of other minerals. He assured that under his administration, the situation has changed for the better. Barbosa provided an example: the Ixtacamaxtitlan gold-silver project, developed by the Canada-based Almaden Minerals, whose concession was canceled by the Supreme Court in February 2022.
According to SGM, there are 12 lithium deposits in Puebla, located in the municipalities of Tepeyahualco, Guadalupe Victoria, Oriental, Chichiquila, Tepeojuma, Izucar de Matamoros, Chietla, Zapotitlan, Petlalcingo, Piaxtla, Tehuitzingo, Chila de la Sal and Chiautla.
On April 20, 2022, President López Obrador reformed Articles 1, 5, 9 and 10 of the Mining Law, which banned private companies from producing lithium as it became a state-exclusive activity. According to López Obrador, one of the main reasons to justify the government’s involvement in the exploitation of the mineral is that companies used their lithium concessions for speculation. The reform quickly mobilized opposition parties, which filed an unconstitutionality claim against it at the Supreme Court.
The government went on to build communication channels with lithium-producing countries to exchange experiences and promote cooperation in the field, which materialized during Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard’s visit to Bolivia. Both countries expressed their interest regarding cooperation between their state-owned lithium companies.