Argentine mining exports hit 10-year high as lithium take off

Mar, 23, 2023 Posted by Gabriel Malheiros

Week 202315

Argentina’s mining exports hit historic levels last year, the government said on Tuesday, powered by surging lithium income as the South American agricultural powerhouse targets profits from the metal key to meeting booming electric vehicle (EV) demand.

Even as Latin America’s third-largest economy suffers triple-digit inflation and the fallout of a devastating drought afflicting top farmland, lithium exports helped push up the country’s mining exports to $3.86 billion last year – the highest level in a decade, according to economy ministry data.

Argentina’s lithium riches, like those in neighboring Chile, are extracted from brine in sprawling salt flats that use the power of the sun to concentrate the ultra-light metal in evaporation pools.

In 2022, lithium exports surged 234% from a year earlier, accounting for nearly a fifth of all Argentine mining shipments.

In a rare bright spot for the country’s ailing economy, the trend shows no sign of slowing.

During the first two months of this year, exports of the white metal more than doubled, from a year earlier, with February shipments pulling in a record $58 million.

The ministry sees mining revenues of $6 billion this year, in part boosted by two new lithium projects set to launch as well as a pair of major expansions underway.

A scramble for the metal has caused its price to skyrocket, which in turn has motivated companies and investors alike.

Some of the world’s largest mining companies have operations in northern Argentina, including China’s Ganfeng Lithium and U.S. miner Livent Corp, which will supply lithium for rechargeable batteries in BMW vehicles.

Mining industry investment since 2020 totals some $11.3 billion, the ministry data showed, including $5.1 billion for lithium and $4.9 billion for copper, also heavily used in EVs.

Spanning Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, South America’s so-called “lithium triangle” accounts for more than half of global lithium supplies.

Source: Reuters

To read the original news report, please see: https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/argentine-mining-exports-hit-10-year-high-lithium-evs-take-off-2023-03-21/

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