Exploited by China and Canada
Mexico has everything to be a power in lithium, considering that one of the most abundant metal deposits has been discovered in Sonora. Even lithium could be “the new oil” as said Victor Manuel Toledo, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).
“ We are in an energy transition worldwide, ” he said . It is not only that lithium is occupied in computers, it is more ” the issue of accumulators, the issue of electric cars is coming to us “.
It has a point: just a dozen countries supply the growing demand for lithium across the globe. Bolivia and Chile are the most important countries in the sector , but Sonora works in a field that contains lithium in quantities still unknown. To estimate how much it is exactly, the Canadian company Bacanora Lithium and the Chinese company Gangfeng Lithium are already working on exploration activities on site. Bolivia has a proven reserve of 21 million tons of lithium
” The issue of lithium is going to become strategic ” Toledo ruling.
The official said that together with the Ministry of Energy, it is already studied how Mexico will intervene in the new global lithium market, after a reporter questions him about whether private concessions will be granted on the exploitation of the deposit.
Although there was no response, the Sonora project was awarded during the Enrique Peña Nieto administration. The deposit could have up to 243 million tons of lithium, but it is not the only one in the country.
The precious lithium
It turns out that lithium supply security is already a priority for the United States and Asia. The demands are on the rise and so does the production of lithium carbonate and also the prices. Mexico should be able to manufacture electric cars in public factories according to Toledo
But the sector is incipient and still volatile. It is documented that lithium prices between 2015 and 2018 tripled, but as of mid-year, the price has fallen by 30 with the discovery of new deposits and with more competitors entering the market.
So many delicate issues have made Mexico’s role in the commercialization of lithium not yet defined, but the Ministry of Energy already says that Bacanora Minerals (the Canadian company) “expects to produce 17,5000 tons of lithium carbonate for 2019-2020, and then increasing to 35,000 tons annually. “
With stabilized prices or not, it is also true that Ganfeng Lithium investors are having meetings with the secretary of Economy of Sonora, Jorge Vidal, who traveled to China to specify the participation of the company in a project that already involves extraction and that will begin in 2022 according to the Sun of Mexico.
According to the media, the information has been corroborated by the Deputy Secretary of Mining of the federal government, Francisco Quiroga.
All the interest generated by the lithium deposits in Mexico (which are not limited to Sonora, there is also in Baja California, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas), not only has to do with the amount of the mineral, but with the ease with which the one on national soil can be extracted. The secret is in the earth. More than 85% of global lithium reserves are in South America
The lithium lottery
Veolia is a company dedicated to the management of water, waste, and chemicals so that companies optimize their production and reduce their ecological footprint. His experience with waste management has led him to develop a process that can be used to extract lithium from clay.
It turns out that lithium can be found in oceans, rocks, mineral deposits, geothermal fields, oil wells, and clay deposits. Mines in Australia work by extracting lithium from rocks, others in South America extract the brine metal, but in Sonora, the lithium is in clay. Veolia says that it is in the latter where the purest lithium can be obtained through the process they have developed, which they have already offered to Bacanaroa Minerals. The clay from the Sonora deposit is essentially made of volcanic material.
Lithium is not only used in rechargeable batteries. It also has uses in the glass, ceramic, grease, lubricants and could even be used for nuclear fusion reactors.
Mexico may have taken out the lithium lottery, but how much will it gain from becoming a mineral power remains to be seen. Difficulties abound, as explained by the specialist of the School of Business of La Salle, Carlos Jiménez, to La Jornada, but the main one is that in Mexico there is no developed lithium industry.
Canada and China are already in Sonora, while the exploration projects of a deposit in Baja California are in charge of the American firm Pan American Lithium and the one in San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas is in charge of the Spanish Litiomex.
Lithium reserves in Mexico exceed those of Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia together
China will keep 50% of the mega-lithium deposit in Mexico. That’s why Trump wanted to enter!
Source: xataka.com.mx, Forbes mx, el economista, la jornada
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