A lithium deposit that could be one of the largest in the world was discovered in the United States this week. It would contain in between 20 and 40 million tons metric lithium, a figure that would exceed deposits in Chile and Australia combined.
However, the properties of the deposits discovered in the USA differ from those in Chile; since in the first case lithium would be available clay deposits, and this means that exploitation has advanced through the process of converting clay into lithium. The main sources for this are currently brine and rock.
The scientist from the Faculty of Economics of the Universidad de los Andes, Juan Nagel, believes that “the United States could well compete directly with Chile in lithium production.” The world is moving there and countries are trying to secure supply chains for electric battery manufacturing. “It’s not just about lithium, but also minerals like cobalt,” he points out.
However, the scientist emphasizes that it is still too early to predict the impact of the discovery. “We need to know what extent it is and what quality it is. “In addition, given that it is a young industry, there is a risk that demand will not materialize, that other providers will appear and that logistical or environmental problems will arise,” explains Nagel.
Ultimately, for the teacher, the truth is that Chile “must redouble its efforts to increase production and avoid losing market position.” Chile has an advantageous position in this market – it has large reserves of very good quality,” concludes Juan Nagel.