American Lithium has been given assent from the Peruvian government to explore further lithium reserves in the vicinity of its current lithium projects in the country.
American Lithium currently handles a pair of projects in the country’s south-eastern region of Puno, close to the Bolivian border.
The Peruvian government’s license grants American Lithium rights to explore in the area close to their current Falchani mine. The Falchani project is still in the pre-developmental stage. Feasibility assessments are being expedited as the company prepares to begin development of the expected initial 4,000 tonnes per year project. The mine is expected to begin production in 2026.
American Lithium also operates the Macusani uranium project in the same region and is exploring further lithium resources in the Puno region.
Peru’s lithium strategy
While nearby Chile, Bolivia and Argentina — often referred to as the lithium triangle —hold a majority of the world’s lithium, Peru does not currently produce any lithium.
In April, it was announced that the Chilean government would pursue nationalisation of the country’s lithium resources. In 2021, Chile produced 26,000 tonnes of the metal, a vital component in electric vehicle batteries.
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The following year, the Peruvian government stated their intent to begin production of lithium batteries, despite its current lack of lithium production. Peru’s Vice Minister for Mines, Jaime Chavez, commented: “We have a lot of reserves and we think this is an opportunity and a challenge to carry out [lithium] extraction and value-added production”.
Chile’s lithium nationalisation could open the door to an expansion of Peruvian lithium as contracts stall in their southern neighbour. The Chilean government has stated that all new lithium contracts must be negotiated with the government and that the state would take primary control over all new projects.
In response to Chile’s mining nationalisation, Peru’s Economy Minister Alex Contreras remarked: “A window of opportunity has opened, and we want to take advantage of it”, and indicated an interest in projects from other miners.