Lithium nationalism taking root in region with most resources – by Jonathan Gilbert and Daniela Sirtori-Cortina (Bloomberg News – June 29, 2021)

Politicians in Latin America, a region that accounts for more than half the world’s lithium resources, are looking to increase the role of the state in an industry that’s crucial for weaning the world off fossil fuels.

In Argentina, state energy companies are entering the lithium business as authorities make a bid to develop downstream industries. In Chile, a leading presidential candidate wants to do something similar just as the nation drafts a new constitution that may lead to tougher rules for miners.

To be sure, no one in power is talking about expropriating assets in production and much of the anti-investor rhetoric in Chile is coming from opposition groups.

Still, by exacerbating inequalities and exposing supply-chain vulnerabilities, the pandemic is stoking resource nationalism that could lead to less favorable conditions for producers just as they expand in a nascent lithium-ion battery boom.

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