Mexico’s Economy Secretary Downplays Lithium Deposits Amid Nationalization Debate
Mexico’s economy secretary downplayed the significance of the country’s lithium deposits Thursday, in response to calls to nationalize the valuable natural resource.
Bacanora Lithium, based in the United Kingdom, owns 10 mining concessions in neighboring Sonora, where it claims to have located one largest lithium deposits in the world.
But as the company moves forward with plans to begin extraction in 2022, some Mexican leaders are calling on the government to take control of the country’s lithium.
"The Economy Secretary is already doing an investigation," President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said during a press conference earlier this month. "We have to make a decision, what to do with the lithium, because it's a strategic material and a great wealth."
He said minerals and natural resources belong to Mexico, but leaders would have to resolve what to do about concessions and contracts had already been awarded.
However, in a legislative meeting Thursday, Economy Secretary Graciela Márquez avoided tackling the question of nationalization head on. Instead, she alleged that lithium deposits in Sonora are not as significant as they have been made out to be, saying that much of deposit was actually clay. And added that, for now, the process of extracting the metal is too inefficient and costly to be worth the effort.