“What we do is Nationalize lithium so that it cannot be exploited by foreigners, neither from Russia, nor from China, nor from the United States. Oil and lithium belong to the nation, they belong to the people of Mexico, to you, to all those who live in this Sonora region, to all Mexicans, ”decisive Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. In this way, Mexico ended up a process that began last year with the reform of the mining law: To consolidate lithium as government property for extraction and subsequent exploitation.
The regulations stipulate that approximately 234,855 hectares of reserves covering seven municipalities – Arivechi, Divisadero, Granados, Huásabas, Nácori Chico, Sahuaripa and Bacadéhuachi – in the state of Sonora, in the north of the country, are considered protected areas of lithium minerals and that exploration and exploitation And use must be authorized by the Mexican government. Measure proves it Privileges already granted will not be withdrawna line that benefits China’s Ganfeng Lithium, which has the most advanced exploration projects in the region.
The signing of the decree comes as a continuation of the process that the government started in April last year, when it obtained the Amending the Mining Act which recognized lithium as an exclusive resource for the people of Mexico and decided that its exploration, exploitation, utilization and use would be the responsibility of the state by creating LitioMx, a public company responsible for the Ministry of Energy.
The amendment of the law contained discrepancies which were pointed out by the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) while presenting the signature of the nationalization decree: “There are of course, sheltersYou already know how conservatives are, who would like Mexico to become a colony of foreigners, not to be an independent, free and sovereign country; No more than they will not be able to protect them or their differences in the judiciary.” By the decree, the Mexican government established the specific area in which the mineral was concentrated and named it the Mining Reserve.
mexico in Tenth place in the list of countries with lithium reserves. The US Geological Survey estimates that it has 1.7 million tons, 2.3 percent of global reserves. A much lower figure than the 21 million in Bolivia or the 19 in Argentina that the same organization calculates. However, the numbers are projections because the country has early exploration projects and the exploitation phase has not started.
This is what Mexican soil offers Ore in clay rather than salt flats as in Argentina or Bolivia. These details require greater technology to obtain raw materials of the degree necessary to make batteries and the Mexican state does not have the necessary expertise: “Now comes the technological part, because lithium here, according to technicians, is in clay, so it requires special processing. But researchers are conducting studies to find a way to extract and process it. , i.e. separating it from the clay and already having this raw material, which is essential for making batteries,” López Obrador explained.
Every time there is a movement related to the strategic position of a country with regard to lithium, it is inevitable to return to the Argentine experience. In Argentina, the controversy dates back to the 1994 constitution that ratified the The original domain of the provinces on natural resources. In this way, Argentina has a federal system to regulate and promote mining activity in which the provinces control mining resources and are able to grant concessions to explore and exploit them, while the nation receives most of the resources. Tax resources are linked to the activity and tools of productive policy, science and technology.
With the national state unable to interfere in this scheme, it created the three provinces that have the most developed activity, namely Salta, Jujuy and Catamarca, Lithium mining area Through an inter-provincial treaty, to jointly develop the economic and social aspects derived from the research, extraction, production, processing and marketing of resources, their products and derivatives.
The treaty has not yet been formed. at the moment Jugoi and Catamarca are the only two provinces where there are projects in the commercial production phase, and they have different systems. Jujuy declared lithium as a strategic resource and participates with the regional state corporation Jemse in project partnerships, with its corresponding profits.
On the other hand, Catamarca as a company is not involved in any lithium projects. In this province, the Fénix project is operating commercially, which is located in Salar del Hombre Muerto (Catamarca) and belongs to the Levent Corporation, a subsidiary of the American FMC group. Salta still doesn’t have a blueprint because it doesn’t yet have any projects in production, but it has committed to the treaty to set a similar standard in the three regions.