(Bloomberg) — Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is ratcheting up nationalistic rhetoric around the country’s untapped lithium deposits, signaling private capital isn’t welcome in the industry.
Unlike other metals such as gold and silver, lithium is a strategic mineral like oil that belongs to the nation, AMLO, as the populist president is known, told reporters in Mexico City on Wednesday, announcing plans to create a state lithium company.
While Mexico has yet to produce lithium commercially, previous governments granted exploration concessions including to Bacanora Lithium Plc, recently acquired by China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co., for areas in Sonora state. AMLO called for an investigation into how concessions were awarded given they don’t benefit Mexicans.
“Lithium is going to be exploited by the nation,” he said when asked about permits in Sonora. “Just so it’s clear: Lithium doesn’t belong to the government or the state. Lithium belongs to the people and the nation of Mexico.”
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