Argentina could become ‘third or fourth largest’ global lithium producer, says minister

Argentina expects to receive investments of up to US$4.2 billion in its lithium industry over the next five years, which could propel it into the top tier of global producers of the key battery metal.

The country, which forms one third of the South American ‘lithium triangle’, has attracted a number of major players from the mining and battery chemicals space in recent years, including Rio Tinto and South Korea’s POSCO.

Argentina produced 33,000 tonnes of lithium in 2020 and projects it will reach 50,000 tonnes this year. Should the expected investment flow into the sector in the coming years, the country will double output by 2023 and reach 175,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate production by 2025.

This means that Argentina has the potential to become the world’s ‘third or fourth largest’ lithium producer, according to productive development minister Matías Kulfas. In a recent roundtable discussion on the sector’s potential, Kulfas said the projected investment will be key to build the necessary infrastructure and improve efficiencies.

The minister also highlighted the need for sound policies that help spur investment in the industry without neglecting the environment.

The lithium triangle – comprised of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia – contains nearly 56% of the world’s resources of the metal, according to the most recent figures from the United States Geological Survey.

In Argentina, 23 lithium projects are currently in development, including Ganfeng Lithium and Lithium Americas’ Caucharí-Olaroz and the Kachi project, owned by Australia’s Lake Resources