What’s next for Mexico’s lithium projects?

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, September 29, 2022
What’s next for Mexico’s lithium projects?

Uncertainty following Mexico’s nationalization of lithium has stunted progress across the country’s portfolio of lithium projects, with a string of assets on hold and planned acquisitions scrapped.

Mexico nationalized lithium in April, and established state-run LitioMx in August to manage exploration, mining, processing and utilization of the battery metal.

But President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has stated that existing lithium concessions will be respected if their contracts are found to be in order in an ongoing review.

BNamericas lists 20 Mexican lithium projects in its project database, ranging from early-stage exploration assets to Ganfeng Lithium’s US$420mn Sonora property (in picture), Mexico’s sole large, advanced-state lithium project (Mexico does not currently produce lithium).


China’s Ganfeng has reaffirmed its commitment to advancing Sonora.

“The company will further accelerate the construction of the Mexico Sonora lithium clay project, [and] endeavor to make it a leading project in the field of extraction of lithium from lithium clay across the globe,” it said in an interim report posted on the Hong Kong stock exchange website earlier this month.

No update on current works or progress at the project were given. Previous forecasts put first production in 2H24.

Sonora is expected to produce 17,500t/y lithium carbonate before doubling to 35,000t/y in a US$380mn expansion in the fourth year of operations.


Rockland Resources has suspended activities at its Elektra lithium project pending clarification of its status from Mexican authorities.

“The project is on hold while the company sorts out its position with the Mexican government,” CEO Mike England told BNamericas last month.

Vancouver-based Rockland’s Mexican team is actively looking into this, he added.

Option payments on the project have also been deferred until the company has clarity on the Mexican nationalization legislation, the company said in its Q2 MD&A report.

Rockland acquired an option on Elektra last year but did not confirm the identity of the property vendor.


Silver Valley Metals (formerly Organimax Nutrient) is planning to sell or bring in a partner to advance its three Mexican lithium assets after shifting focus to silver.

But any deal may be delayed as the company awaits a court ruling following a legal dispute raised by the Vancouver-based firm against Mexico’s nationalization of lithium, which Silver Valley says is not supported by the Mexican constitution or by trade agreements between Canada and Mexico.

Silver Valley announced plans to raise Cdn$500,000 in a private placement financing on Wednesday, with part of the proceeds earmarked for the lawsuit, which the company expects to conclude by end-2022.

“The expectation has been given from the Supreme Court of Mexico that they will provide an answer to the validity of the company’s deposit(s) considering the amendment to the mining law that was undertaken by the government this past April,” the company said in a release.

Silver Valley is in discussions with a number of interested parties regarding its Santa Clara, Caliguey and La Salada brine deposits.

Options include a full sale or spin-out, joint venture, or direct investment in the company.

Combined inferred mineral resources for the three properties contain 12.3Mt of sulfate of potash and 243,000t of lithium carbonate equivalent.


Advance Lithium is evaluating shifting focus to potassium at its portfolio of 13 Mexican lithium deposits, in response to the nationalization of the battery metal.

“While lithium is covered by this new legislation in Mexico, potassium is not,” the company said in a release in June.

Potassium is seeing strong demand as a fertilizer and is currently imported by Mexico at high cost.

A patent-pending extraction method which Advance plans to deploy can also produce sulfate of potash, prices of which are very strong, the Canadian company added.

Advance also plans to hold talks with LitioMx regarding potential development of its projects.

“The potential of near-term production of both lithium and potassium products puts the company in a unique position with its salars/salt lakes deposits and looks forward to discussing the lithium opportunities with the newly formed Mexican national lithium company,” the release said.

Advance has the ChapalaColoradaSalitralLas CasasEl BarrilHernandez, El AgritoSaldivarLa Doncella, La Prieta, El Perdido, Maxy and El Cristalillo projects.


One World Lithium terminated an agreement with Energy Metals Discovery Group (EMDG) to acquire the Salar del Diablo project in Baja California state in May following poor drilling results.

Andrew Brodkey, principal/member of EMDG, did not immediately respond to a request for information on the status and plans for the projects.

Rock Tech Lithium, meanwhile, last year confirmed it had scrapped a planned acquisition of the Nogalito lithium project.

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