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President of Mexico nationalizes lithium

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has nationalized lithium, handing responsibility for lithium reserves over to the energy ministry. The President nationalized Mexico’s lithium deposits last April, and created LitioMX (Litio Para Mexico) to mine lithium (earlier post).


Obrador’s decree also established 234,855 hectares (907 square miles) in Sonora as a mining zone known as Li-MX-1. Sonora hosts virtually all Mexico’s lithium resources—8.82Mt lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) or 1.66Mt lithium metal.

A number of foreign companies are interested in developing lithium deposits in Mexico; in September 2022, the finance ministry valued the lithium deposit in Sonora state as worth as much as 12 trillion Mexican pesos (US$653 billion, currently).

The only advanced-stage lithium project in Mexico is Ganfeng Lithium’s Sonora Lithium Clay Project, 100% held by Ganfeng through its holdings in Bacanora Lithium and Sonora Lithium. According to the resource assessment report of SRK Consulting (UK), the total lithium resource of the project is approximately 8.82 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent, The capacity of phase I is expected to be 50,000 tons of lithium hydroxide.


What we are doing now ... is to nationalize lithium so that it cannot be exploited by foreigners from Russia, China or 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 region of Sonora, to all Mexicans.

—President Obrador

The US Geological Survey USGS) ranks Mexico ninth globally for lithium resources, at 1.7Mt. World leaders Bolivia, Argentina and Chile hold 21Mt, 19Mt and 9.8Mt.



Woah. The balance of supporting (allegedly) the values that nationalizing purports to provide (environmental protection, labor practices, direct income to government coffers, etc) may indeed serve to lead to reduced private interest, especially since this type of mining is far more technologically-focussed (i.e requiring outside help) than the oil and other reserves that Mexico had previously taken over. Being a slightly above-average-corrupt system may also undermine mobilization and effective social protections. But could we have expected any less in which Li will become a major (more) player.


Good news for US based lithium mines project

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