Mexico’S Lithium Stuck: Legal Battles And Tech Woes Halt Progress

(MENAFN- The Rio Times) Mexico's ambition to nationalize its lithium industry, initiated nearly two years ago, remains stalled.

A combination of technological shortcomings and legal disputes with foreign firms blocks progress.

Despite the nationalization push by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico has yet to extract any lithium.

In June, Chinese mining giant Ganfeng Lithium requested international arbitration against Mexico. The federal government had canceled its concessions in Bacadéhuachi, Sonora.

Ganfeng Lithium claims substantial investments and demands the restoration of its concessions and financial compensation.

This legal dispute has stalled Mexico's most advanced lithium project. It will remain paused until the arbitration concludes.

Ganfeng Lithium argues to the World Bank that the 2022 Mining Law amendments shouldn't affect their existing concessions.

In late June, President López Obrador vowed to defend Mexico's lithium reserves, calling Ganfeng's concessions "generic" and not specific to lithium.

Mexico faces another significant challenge: the lithium in Sonora lies in clay deposits, not salt flats.

Extraction is complex and costly. Only two or three companies can handle it, including Ganfeng Lithium, which owns Bacanora Lithium in Sonora.
Mexico's Lithium Stuck: Legal Battles and Tech Woes Halt Progress
Claudia Sheinbaum, the presumed President-elect of Mexico, suggested involving state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) in lithium exploration and exploitation.

However, skepticism surrounds this idea due to Pemex's financial crisis. Nonetheless, some believe Pemex has the necessary capabilities and experience.

Lithium is a critical component for batteries, essential for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.

The global demand for lithium is skyrocketing. Mexico's inability to tap into its lithium reserves not only hampers its economic potential but also affects global supply chains.


The Rio Times

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