During a morning press conference, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed that his government would establish a state-owned lithium company.
The news comes after the discovery of significant amounts of lithium buried in the solid of a handful of states, most notably Sonora.
“The lithium belongs to us, not to the Americans, the Chinese, or the Russians. This is not negotiable,” said President López Obrador.
The remarks come on the heels of plants to provide concessions to the Chinese lithium giant, Ganfeng, to extract the precious mineral deposits found in the Sonora desert.
But as always in Mexico, the specter of corruption looms large, with many fearing that wealth generated by the extraction of the mineral will fall into the hands of corrupt politicians and business leaders.
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.
The manufacturing processes of lithium, including the solvent and mining waste, present significant environmental and health hazards, not least of which include severe water pollution.