Even without Reform, AMLO Won’t Grant Lithium Permits

A lithium field. Photo: oilprice.com


Regardless of whether his controversial electric energy reform — currently in Congress awaiting passage — is approved, there will be no government concessions for the exploration and exploitation of Mexico’s lithium reserves, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said Thursday, Oct. 7.

During his daily morning press conference at the National Palace, AMLO warned that if there is what he called a “betrayal of the fatherland” and legislators do not approve his electricity bill (his leftist National Regeneration Movement party currently does not have a majority in the Congress to ensure passage), which includes a clause giving the government full control over the country’s lithium fields, he will deny any request for a concession for the exploitation of the mineral, vital for the production of electric vehicles, cell phones and other electronics.

“Failure to pass (the initiative) would be an act of treason against the nation,” AMLO said.

“But in the case that the bill is not approved, I am going to deny any request for a concession for its exploitation, and I have the power to do so.”

While Mexico is believed to have potentially large lithium deposits, there is currently no commercial production of the white metal.

With an estimated 244 million tons of lithium deposits recently discovered by the Canadian company Bacanora in the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora, Mexico could possibly have the world’s largest reserves.

Ganfeng Lithium, China’s largest lithium compounds producer and supplier to Tesla, agreed earlier this year to a joint venture with Bacanora to develop the mine in Sonora, which would be Mexico’s first lithium mine.

That contract could now be nullified by AMLO’s declaration Thursday.

But while López Obrador may be hellbent on controlling the nation’s lithium deposits, the cost of exploitation could be exorbitant, and the country does not have the necessary know-how and equipment.

Moreover, the exploitation of lithium requires huge quantities of water and can have serious consequences for the environment.

And Mexico has the added complication of its lithium mine sitting in a region controlled by criminal organizations, which the AMLO government has failed to control.

Currently, about 75 percent of the world’s lithium reserves are in the salty brine deserts of northern Chile and Argentina and southern Bolivia, and they are mostly exploited and commercialized by China.

One comment

  • don’t do business with the Chinese, nothing….and also that area in Mexico is not in the northeastern it seem, but in the northwestern….Sonora is west Mexico not northeastern….

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