China Goes After South America’s New Treasure: Lithium PART I – by Sabina Nicholls (Dialogo Americas – July 29, 2023)

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With its vast salt flats, Latin America is rich in a metal that has become more sought after than gold: lithium. Known as white gold or the oil of the 21st century, this metal is now essential for energy transition and the booming market for electric cars.

The so-called Lithium Triangle, located in the Andean highlands and comprising Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile, covers 52 percent of the world’s lithium reserves, which has aroused the interest of the world’s main economic players and has spurred a race to acquire this metal in South America. Having access to lithium is now synonymous with power.

In the unbridled race for the Lithium Triangle, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has its foot on the accelerator and is in the lead to fulfill one of its major tasks: to dominate the energy sector. So far in 2023, the Asian country has closed ambitious agreements to invest in the Andean region’s salt flats.

So far, China is the only country that has signed with the three nations of the Lithium Triangle. “Latin America should worry about China because it is coming for its natural resources,” Argentine journalist and writer Agustín Barletti warns in his most recent investigation, The Dragon’s Hunger: China’s Plan to Eat the World.

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