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Monday, January 24, 2022

Could Yucatán be sitting on billions worth of lithium?

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Lithium mining can be enormously profitable but comes at great risk to the environment and human health. Photo: Wikimedia Foundation

The value of lithium has been increasing dramatically over the past few years, making it one of the most valuable minerals on earth. Photo: Courtesy

Yucatán may be sitting atop significant lithium deposits, according to Sen. Napoleón Gómez Urrutia.

These statements have caused speculation in Yucatán and across Mexico regarding the size of these possible deposits. But details pertaining to any actual finds have not been released. 

Lithium is highly valuable due to its relative rarity and several industrial uses, including the production of heat-resistant glass and lithium-ion batteries.

The world’s appetite for lithium has increased dramatically over the past decade given the use of lithium-ion batteries in every good such as mobile phones and electric vehicles. 

“If the search for lithium in Yucatán and other states proves fruitful, it would surely be a tremendous boom for Mexico’s economy,” said Gómez Urrutia.

Earlier: CFE to invest billions to improve Yucatán’s energy infrastructure

Sources of minerals — such as gold, silver, as well as hydrocarbons, and water found in Mexico — are federal property, according to Mexico’s constitution.

Mexico has a long history of corruption when it comes to the exploitation of natural resources. Because of this, there is a very real concern that any wealth created by the discovery of lithium deposits could be siphoned off by corrupt politicians and business interests. 

The manufacturing processes of lithium, including the solvent and mining waste, presents significant environmental and health hazards, not least of which includes severe water pollution. 

The approximate amount of lithium on earth is between 30 and 90 million tons, with the largest concentrations being found in Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. 

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