For Latin America, Will Booming Lithium Bring Competition—or Collaboration? – by David Feliba (Americas Quarterly – November 2, 2022)

Americas Quarterly

Increasing global demand for the mineral could benefit countries with the world’s largest reserves.

BUENOS AIRES – Nearly 55% of the world’s lithium deposits lie in Latin America’s lithium triangle, the swath of territory encompassing Chile’s and Argentina’s northern regions and Bolivia’s southwest.

But as hopes of a windfall from increased electric vehicle production rise, anxieties are rising too over which country will come out on top—or whether cooperation between the three can help secure more advantageous deals.

Already, expectations of rising demand are contributing to strains in global supply, as the price of lithium carbonate equivalent, a key lithium derivative, has soared almost 500% in the past two years. The International Energy Agency expects demand to rise to 2.5 million tons by the end of the decade, up from 0.5 million today.

Electric passenger vehicles sales are projected to hit 21 million units in 2025, BloombergNEF has estimated, a jump of nearly 220% compared to 2021. Global automotive companies such as Toyota, which owns a joint venture which produces lithium carbonate in Argentina, are looking to secure their supply in the lithium triangle.

For the rest of this article: