Mexico’s president signs decree to nationalize lithium reserves

February 20, 2023

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador he will sign a decree to hand over the concession for all of the country’s lithium reserves to the energy ministry.

Reuters reported that Lopez Obrador nationalized the country’s vast lithium deposits last April, hoping to cash in on surging demand for the metal from makers of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

There are no lithium mine currently producing in the country and there is some doubt about the nation’s ability to commercially extract its lithium without private expertise.

Mexico holds important potential lithium deposits. Studies suggest Mexico may have some 1.7 Mt (2.1 million st) of lithium. While close to a dozen foreign companies have active mining concessions that aim to develop potential lithium deposits, Lopez Obrador has said all of them will be “reviewed,” which has cast a cloud over the sector’s future prospects.

“What we are doing now … is to nationalize lithium so that it cannot be exploited by foreigners from Russia, China or the United States,” Lopez Obrador said at the event.

To date, Mexican lithium deposits identified in early exploration efforts reveal mostly clay-based deposits, which many industry experts argue will be much more difficult and costly to develop.

Mexico is open to partnerships, but any future joint venture between its new state-run company, LitioMx, and private producers must give the government a majority stake, Chief Executive Pablo Taddei told Reuters.

Lopez Obrador created LitioMx, formally known as Litio Para Mexico, by decree last August.

China’s Ganfeng Lithium controls Mexico’s most advanced lithium project, Bacanora Lithium, located in northern Sonora state, but Taddei declined to comment on talks over the project.

 Photo: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, credit ShutterStock. 


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