During his recent visit to Mexico, as a guest at the national celebrations of the 212th anniversary of the beginning of our independence, Evo Morales, former president of Bolivia, called for the Latin American nations with lithium deposits to form a common block, to in order to industrialize the ore. The former head of state expressed that “It is one thing to be an empire and another thing is to be a power; If Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, if we really industrialize as a people in front of other States, I have great hope that these countries can be lithium power in the whole world and that is in our hands”.
For his part, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated last May that Mexico is seeking an alliance with Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, with the purpose of helping each other in the exploitation of lithium.
The assertions of the head of the federal Executive and the former Bolivian president make perfect sense when the potential of Mexico and these three South American nations regarding this natural resource is observed. According to the United States Geological Survey, our country has 1.7 million metric tons of lithium reserves (2.3 percent of world reserves). For its part, Bolivia has around 21 million metric tons of this mineral, while Argentina has 18.3 and Chile, 9.6. This means that these three nations alone have about 64 percent of the planet’s lithium reserves. Australia, China and the United States, among others, also have significant reserves of this resource.
According to the Latin American Strategic Center for Geopolitics (CELAG), the global demand for lithium will increase 42 times by the year 2040.
In this context, in Mexico, in addition to nationalizing lithium for the purposes of exploration, exploitation and use by the nation, the company Litio para México (LitioMx) has also been created, which will be a decentralized public body, with technical autonomy, operational and management that, in addition to the purposes already mentioned, will manage and control the economic value chains of this mineral.
It should be remembered, for example, that between the Governments of Mexico and Bolivia there have been important rapprochements that seek to materialize international instruments, such as the Framework Agreement between the National Council for Science and Technology and Bolivian Lithium Deposits, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretary of Energy of our country and the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy of Bolivia, for the creation of the Mexican-Bolivian Binational Institute for Cooperation in the Matter of Lithium, all within the framework of the Letter of Intent in the Matter of Cooperation, signed between both States in 2021.
The foregoing without ignoring the fact that our country will also explore ways to industrialize Bolivia’s lithium, with its agreement, for which companies from the two nations will work together.
Likewise, Mexico seeks to materialize the production of lithium ion batteries, industrial robots for the production of cathodes and anodes, as well as the assembly of batteries for electric cars.
Although the aforementioned binational cooperation is very important, so is the establishment of a multilateral alliance, in order to institutionalize a space that serves to optimize the exploration of this resource. This would promote an industrial development postponed for a long time in Latin America, in addition to the fact that what is always sought with it is to improve the quality of life of the people.
The alliance made concrete, for example, in a permanent body, would also seek to establish a common price and production policy, in addition to technology transfer, as even CELAG itself has proposed.
Our nations have the opportunity to ally and cooperate, as well as to become a joint power in this field and help each other in the exploitation of the so-called White gold.
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