Mexico’s lithium is receiving the focus of foreign firms. But the country not only wants to position itself as a supplier of raw materials, but also as a processor of the important metal.
Mexico’s lithium deposits are attracting the interest of foreign investors. Canada’s Bacanora Minerals and China’s Ganfeng Lithium have plans to develop the extensive deposits in the state of Sonora. In a first phase, the consortium wants to invest US$ 420 million and start production by the end of 2022. Annual production should be 17,500 tons in the first four years and then increase to 35,000 tons. Bacanora Minerals already holds the necessary concessions and is currently finalizing the technical specifications for the mine and associated processing facilities.
World’s largest lithium reserve is in Sonora, Mexico
The lithium field in Sonora, called “La Ventana”, is considered the largest single deposit in the world, but it is not the only discovery site in Mexico. According to market research firm BNamericas, the country has around 18 discovery sites in the states of Baja California Sur, Coahuila, San Luis Potosí, Sonora and Zacatecas, 12 of which are undeveloped.
World’s largest lithium deposits
- La ventana: Located in Sonora, Mexico. With reserves of 243 million tons.
- Thacker Pass Lithium: Located in Nevada, United States. With reserves of 179 million tons.
- Wodgina Lithium: Located in Port Hedland, Australia. With reserves of 151 million tons.
- Pilgangora Lithium: Located in Pilbara, Australia. With reserves of 108 million tons.
- Earl Grey Lithium: Located in Mount Holland, Australia. With reserves of 94 million tons.
Challenges of lithium extraction in Mexico
Lithium is a central component of batteries and is therefore extremely important for the future development of electromobility. The light metal is also used in electricity storage systems for photovoltaic cells. “Mexican lithium is of high quality and consequently suitable for the production of battery cells,” reports the development bank FIFOMI (Fideicomiso de Fomento Minero). However, it points out that the evolution of demand is still uncertain despite the current euphoria: “No one knows what the design of electric car batteries will be like in the future and how much lithium will be required per unit.” Therefore, extensive studies are needed to be able to properly structure mining projects.
Mining cluster in Sonora
The importance of lithium will increase and as a result, the Mexican government is very interested in building a value chain to full battery production in the country. In the short to medium term, it is unlikely that complete batteries will be produced in Mexico.