As of September 2023, Argentina had two active lithium mines. Livent operates the Fénix mine in the province of Salta, while FMC Lithium operates the Hombre Muerto mine in the province of Catamarca.
According to the Argentine Chamber of Mining Companies (CAMAR), Argentina has vast lithium resource potential, and there are 14 lithium projects under construction or in the advanced exploration phase.
Argentina is expected to become one of the world’s leading lithium producers once these projects come online. Argentina already has the largest portfolio of lithium projects in the world, with more than 50 projects in various phases of development. Argentina’s lithium rush is driven by growing demand for lithium-ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicles (EVs) and other renewable energy technologies. Argentina, with its enormous lithium deposits and low production costs, is in an ideal position to supply this demand.
Lithium exploration between India and Argentina
KABIL (Khanij Bidesh India Ltd), has been in advanced talks since June 2023 to purchase lithium blocks in Argentina. The Indian government is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard soon.
Interest in this venture began to take shape in December 2022, when representatives of KABIL, along with Indian ambassador Dinesh Bhatia, met with the governor of Catamarca, Raúl Jalil. During the meeting, they expressed their desire not only to invest in lithium resources in Catamarca, but also in gold and copper mining.
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Additionally, India is in preliminary talks with the Chilean government about securing lithium reserves, although these talks are still in their initial phases, according to reports.
The lithium rush in Argentina is driven by growing demand for lithium-ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicles (EVs).
Lithium in Argentina
According to data from the Ministry of Mining, Argentine lithium exports increased by 235% in 2022 compared to the previous year, totaling about $696 million, as shown in the infographic.
As previously reported, KABIL, a government-owned company focused on overseas mineral exploration, is close to closing a deal to acquire lithium reserves in Argentina.
Based on the existing project pipeline, Argentina’s current production of 40,000 mt of lithium carbonate could triple over the next year, or could exceed forecasts if direct lithium extraction technologies are successfully adopted and infrastructural obstacles are removed .
According to the ministry’s project portfolio, four new projects will begin operating in the first quarter of next year, including Tres Quebradas from the Zijin company in Catamarca, Centenario Ratones from Eramine in Salta, Sal de Oro from Posco in Salta and Catamarca, and Mariana from the Chinese Ganfeng in Salta.
It is crucial to emphasize that the construction of new lithium mines in Argentina comes with difficulties, such as environmental problems, water shortages and community hostility. The Argentine Government is committed to developing the country’s lithium sector in a responsible and sustainable manner. To preserve the environment and local populations, the government has enacted a series of regulations. It is also investing in infrastructure to contribute to the growth of the lithium business.
Note: The article was originally published in English in the Financial Express, and its reproduction in Spanish is made with direct authorization from the author. Link to the original article: https://www.financialexpress.com/business/defence-argentinas-growing-lithium-sector-indias-strategic-partnership-3258683/
She is a senior journalist working at The Financial Express Publications. In a career spanning nearly three decades, she has covered diplomatic and strategic affairs, as well as the defense and aerospace sectors. She is an expert in Latin America and the Caribbean.