AMLO signs decree to assure that lithium is not exploited by Russia, China, or the US: “it belongs to the nation” he says

Lithium ore falls from a chute onto a stockpile at a Talison Lithium Ltd. facility, a joint venture between Tianqi Lithium Corp. and Albemarle Corp., in Greenbushes, Australia, on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. Rising Chinese demand for lithium-ion batteries needed for electric vehicles and energy storage is driving significant price gains and an asset boom in Australia, already the world's largest lithium producer. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

SONORA, MEXICO.- President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed a decree to nationalize lithium, with the aim that this resource cannot be exploited by a foreign country.

López Obrador said that with this agreement lithium cannot be exported by Russia, China, or the United States.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed this Saturday, February 18, a decree to nationalize lithium, with the aim that this resource cannot be exploited by a foreign country.

From Sonora and accompanied by the Secretary of Energy, Rocío Nahle, the Mexican president maintained that with this agreement lithium cannot be exported by Russia, China, or the United States.

“What we are doing now (…) is to 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 region of Sonora, to all Mexicans,” AMLO said.

López Obrador also maintained that “the conservatives” promoted injunctions for lithium to be delivered to foreigners, therefore, he warned that this law has already been approved by the Judiciary and Congress.

“There are, of course, protections, you already know how conservatives are, who would like Mexico to become a colony of foreigners, these people do not want an independent, free, sovereign country”, he said.

Despite the fact that lithium is nationalized, the Chief Executive explained that this resource cannot still be exploited in the country because a technological process is needed to extract it. In other words, Mexico does not have the technology to extract Lithium.

“Now comes the technological part, because the lithium here is, according to the technicians, in clay (…) so it requires special treatment, but the researchers are already doing studies to find a way to extract it, process it, that is, to separate it from the clay and already have this raw material, which is basic for making batteries”, he added.

He even recalled that as long as lithium cannot be extracted, batteries for electric cars cannot be made, which is one of the commitments between the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico: “We could not advance in that objective if we did not have lithium if you don’t have the batteries, and the raw material to make the batteries is that mineral, lithium”.

Leticia Merino Pérez, the coordinator of the Academic Observatory of Society, Environment and Institutions of the UNAM, warned that before the State begins with the exploration of lithium, the government must carry out environmental and community impact assessments, which must be carried out by independent specialists.

“The exploration and exploitation of lithium must be established within a framework of transparency, regardless of whether it is the State or not, since, failing to do so, could violate the Constitution, as well as the rights of the communities surrounding the areas of exploitation,” he said.

The Mining Law establishes that the exploitation, extraction, and processing of lithium is an activity of public interest, which would threaten the rights of access to water, anticipated Aleida Azamar Alonso, a researcher at UAM Xochimilco.

“To extract lithium in some mines in Chile, 600 liters of water per minute are necessary, which is equivalent to the daily consumption of two people in Mexico City; lithium extraction in the country will require larger amounts of water,” Merino Perez explained.

Likewise, she added that the companies involved in this sector “are using large amounts of water, but also large amounts of wood; The population surrounding the Bacanora Lithium project says that there are effects, especially in the amount of water they receive”.

Source: El Financiero

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