Nationalization of lithium in Mexico gets impetus in the Senate

12/02/2021

The proposal to nationalize lithium, one of the main elements of smartphones among other things, has gained momentum in the Mexican Senate, where Morena, the party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and with a majority in Congress, is accumulating support for the legislation to be approved.

Senator Alejandro Armenta, of Morena, president of the Finance Commission, announced Thursday that his initiative for the nationalization of lithium, which he presented in early November 2020, already has the support of more than 40 senators from various parliamentary fractions.

The proposal proposes to reform Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution and consider lithium as "exclusive property of the nation". Lithium is one of the most required products in the world due to its use in the development of batteries for electronic devices and even automobiles, as well as in the medical sector.

"What lithium is worth today in Mexico is 4.5 times the value of the sovereign foreign debt, which amounts to 11 trillion pesos. Therein lies an answer to solve the economic disaster we have in our country", said Armenta during his presentation to the plenary at that time.

The proposal would allow the nation to own the means of production, exploitation, extraction, commercialization, distribution, and storage of the metal. It would also allow concessions to the private initiative, but preserving the public good.

The document was turned to the United Commissions of Constitutional Points and Legislative Studies, Second, for its analysis and ruling. Mier stated that in a context where "the world will move with lithium in the coming years", his proposal will allow guaranteeing the country's energy sovereignty in the transition from fossil to clean energies.

"We are not against foreign investment, we are against the plundering of our country. With the nationalization of lithium, concessions to the private initiative would be allowed, but based on guidelines for the benefit of Mexico", said Armenta.

He also informed that they will start talks with the heads of the Ministry of Economy, Tatiana Clouthier Carrillo; and of Energy, Rocío Nahle García, with the objective of "giving the necessary emphasis to the initiative".

For her part, Senator Rocío Abreu, who was recently appointed president of the Senate's Energy Commission, agreed that this is a fundamental project to rescue the country's energy sovereignty. "The nationalization of lithium is an issue of great importance that will allow Mexico greater development and better opportunities," she said.

Senator Raúl Bolaños-Cacho, president of the Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change Commission, also called for taking advantage of lithium for the storage of renewable energies and other uses.

The largest lithium mine in the world is located in the state of Sonora, which has proven and probable reserves of 243.8 million tons, and it is estimated that it will have a production capacity of 17,500 tons per year, informed the Green Party legislator.

Questioned on the subject, Ricardo Monreal, the coordinator of Morena's senators, assured that Armenta is "a visionary always ahead of the facts". "In Mexico, we have not highlighted what lithium represents. It is kept hidden because of the interests it represents," he said.

"But I can tell you that already at this moment they are speculating with the lithium stock market, they are already at this moment generating profits from the exploitation of lithium, without it still being regulated in the Constitution and without there still being the institutional exploitation that is required," completed the also president of the body that brings together all the leaders of the benches in the Senate.

Finally, Monreal said he foresaw that more legislators would soon join the proposal. "It is necessary to review it and it is one of the things that the country requires to be able to obtain economic resources in poor areas and attend to the needs of the population that are so unfortunate in the country", he concluded.

By Mexicanist