Lithium, a mineral considered essential in the energy transition, has important reserves in Latin America, especially in the region shared by Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. There, China has made a series of investments that, according to experts, allow it to obtain a distinguished position in the production chain.
According to the International Energy Agency, in its latest report, between 2018 and the first half of 2021, China invested about $4.3 billion to obtain lithium. According to that document, Arnoldus van den Hurk, a geologist at the Remeu Mining Climatic Observatory, highlights that half of these investments were in Latin America.
Lithium has gained importance in recent years, and Bolivia has one of the largest reserves of this metal with 21 million tons, and behind the highlands is Argentina with reserves of up to 20 million tons, while Chile has 11 million tons.
This place, commonly called the Lithium Triangle due to the location of reserves between the three countries, which concentrate 60% of known lithium – according to data from the US Geological Survey (USGS) – was one of the key sites. Chinese investments have been concentrated in recent years with the aim of controlling the extraction of the mineral.
On the other hand, experts quoted by the EFE news agency point out that in addition to investments in the lithium triangle, China has allocated investments in other projects in the region.
Although Arnoldus van den Hurk highlights that Latin America has an important reserve of this resource, he does not appreciate that the economic situation of these countries could differ as oil did in Saudi Arabia. However, it highlights some years of good work for this area.
Van den Herk added: “They should not believe Saudi Arabia because these reserves are becoming less important in the global context.”
Despite having the largest lithium reserve in the world, Bolivia has not developed its industry as much as Chile has. The progress the South American country has made in this regard makes it the second largest producer, behind only Australia.
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