Opinion: Argentina, Bolivia and Chile need a responsible lithium boom

Excerpt from dialogochino.net

The landscape of global energy finance – and Latin American lithium mining – changed last week when China’s President Xi announced that his country would “step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy”, while also committing to end support for coal-fired power plants abroad.

The demand for renewable energy already exists: developing countries around the world have proposed 494 gigawatts in renewable energy projects through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement. In Latin America and the Caribbean alone, energy sector analysts foresee a boom in renewable energy, with installed capacity expected to more than double in the next few years.

Given China’s role as a major producer of renewable technologies, a pivot to renewable energy will also necessitate a stepwise increase in its demand for lithium, a critical mineral necessary for storing power from intermittent sources like wind and solar. Nowhere in the world boasts a larger lithium deposit than the area that straddles Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, often called the lithium triangle countries (LTCs). China has already shown great interest in this sector, with lithium investments in all three LTCs and swiftly increasing import demand.