Mexico‘s Mining Law was amended on April 20, 2022 to designate Mexico’s lithium reserves as part of its national patrimony.
According to the Mining Law, the Executive Branch is responsible for designating a decentralized public agency to carry out all exploration and exploitation of the lithium reserves.
On August 23, 2022, Lithium para Mexico was created for these purposes, under the Ministry of Energy.
Then, on February 18, 2023 the Decree for the Nationalization of Lithium was enacted to safeguard lithium reserves in 234,855 hectares in the municipalities of Arivechi, Divisadero, Granados, Huásabas, Nácori Chico, Sahuaripa and Bacadéhuachi.
Bacadéhuachi is the territory with the highest estimated potential for lithium exploitation in Mexico.
In Mexico, lithium clay sources were in various stages of development or exploration.
Identified lithium resources in Mexico total 1.7 million tons, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Mexico’s lithium reserves
The Mexican government passed a law in April 2022 amending the national mining law to establish greater state control over the country’s lithium resources.
The amendments place responsibility for the exploration, exploitation and utilization of Mexico’s lithium under the exclusive control of a newly created state-owned lithium company, LithiumMx, and prohibits concessions, licenses, contracts, permits and authorizations to non-public entities to carry out these activities.
From the perspective of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the amendments also open the door to declaring other minerals as «strategic resources» that would require greater state control in the future.
The Mexican Mining Chamber (Camimex) considers that the reform to the Mining Law reserving lithium for exclusive State use causes uncertainty in the markets.
From Camimex’s point of view, there is not enough information to give certainty about the existing lithium reserves in Mexico, neither in quantity nor in quality.
«The only way to develop lithium mining, taking advantage of its potential, is precisely through the participation of private initiative for its exploration, exploitation and production. In order to find solutions, it was recommended to take as a reference the case of the United States or the European Union, where the definition of strategic minerals encourages their exploration and safe supply without reserving them to the State», said Camimex.