National deputies of the ruling coalition Frente de Todos (FdT) officially presented a bill today that aims to declare lithium natural reserves —mostly located in the northern provinces— as a “strategic resource,” and described its exploitation and exploration as a key for the development of the country.
“We’re allowed to say that foreign monopolies are taking the lithium away and paying nickels for it,” said the leader of the Corriente Clasista Combativa Juan Carlos Alderete, who spearheaded the initiative. “Not only do we fail to industrialize it in our country, but they loot, leave us with contamination, and take it at bargain prices. We’re giving that white gold away,”
“It’s essential that we take the defense of our sovereignty in our own hands [and] move forward with actual measures that enable local industrialization with the proper environmental safeguards and respect for Indigenous peoples.”
The proposal was also signed by FdT national deputies Verónica Caliva, Sergio Palazzo, Daniel Gollán, Julio Pereyra, Carolina Natalia Arricau, María Rosa Martínez, Leopoldo Moreau, Blanca Osuna, Natalia Souto and Claudia Beatriz Ormachea.
“It’s time to break away with the extractivist-exporter model, change the mining code, amend the Mining Investments law, and move forward with a model of national development and defense of our sovereignty,” said Alderete.
The bill aims to establish lithium mineral reserves as “strategic to the social-economic and industrial development” of the country, considering that “the national exploration, exploitation, exploitation contracts, industrialization and all actions related to lithium and its derivatives are all of national interest.”
Contracts that have already been signed with private companies prior to the bill would be subject to the new rules for a year after its enactment.
In a press release, Alderete explained that lithium “became in recent years one of the minerals that sparked the most interest in the world. Why? Because it’s the raw material to make batteries for cell phones, tablets, notebooks, and electric or hybrid motorcycles and cars.”
“This is why tech companies in imperialist countries and auto corporations are in a frenzied race to obtain raw materials such as lithium carbonate or lithium chloride. It’s part of the battle for the control of energy that is currently being waged in the world”.
Argentina, Chile and Bolivia are home to around 50 million tonnes of lithium resources, studies by the US Geological Survey show, and the provinces surrounding the tri-border region are known as South America’s lithium triangle.