Mexico seeking accord with lithium firm in Sonora state

The Sonora project is expected to produce 35,000 tonnes of lithium per year at full tilt. (Image courtesy of Bacanora Minerals | Twitter)

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday his government wanted to reach agreement with a company over lithium mining in a northern state that will underline Mexico’s right to exploit the valuable mineral.

Lopez Obrador did not name the firm, but China’s Ganfeng 002460.SZ has been developing a major lithium project in the northern border state of Sonora, where it is hoping to produce 35,000 tonnes of lithium a year.

Stressing that lithium belonged to “the nation”, Lopez Obrador said he would visit Sonora and observed that there was a company that had done exploratory work in a “very small area.”

“So there’s an effort underway to reach an agreement with them so as not to start a legal process, but to seek an agreement, a conciliation,” he told a news conference.

Lopez Obrador said Mexico’s Economy Ministry was looking at the matter. The ministry did not immediately clarify whether the company was Ganfeng when asked for comment.

“They want to have the mine, but they don’t have the permits,” Lopez Obrador said of the firm, underlining that while Mexican law would be enforced, his government will work to “convince, persuade, reach agreements, not impose anything.”

Lopez Obrador said recently his administration would next month grant the first concessions for mineral exploitation to a new state-run company dedicated to lithium exploitation.

(By Raul Cortes and Dave Graham; Editing by Paul Simao)

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