Argentine lithium exports grew by 235% in 2022, when compared with the year before, equalling almost $700m according to data released by the Mining Secretariat.
The Secretariat expects exports to reach $5.6bn by 2025, with annual production set to hit 200,000 tonnes. Argentina currently has 38 lithium projects, according to the data.
Argentina’s current installed lithium carbonate production capacity stands at 37,500 tonnes, and the country produces 33,000 tonnes annually. The value of these exports is expected to reach $8.7bn by 2030.
Argentina’s two active lithium mines have been the key drivers for the rise in sales. One is located on the Olaroz salt flat in the northwestern Jujuy province and operated by Sales de Jujuy, a subsidiary of Australia-based Allkem. The other is located in the Hombre Muerto salt flat in the northwestern Catamarca province and operated by US-based Livent.
Growing lithium demand
Lithium is a key material for battery production and commonly used in electric vehicle manufacture. Lithium, also referred to as “white gold,” is becoming an increasingly strategic material.
The World Bank predicts that the production of minerals used in the manufacture of electric vehicles will increase by 500% by 2050.
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A growing number of vehicle manufacture companies have taken an interest in metals and mining. Earlier this year General Motors invested $650m in Lithium America’s. Tesla also plans to begin refining lithium within the next year, as the automotive industry continues to invest in the lithium supply chain.
Argentina is the fourth largest lithium supplier after Australia, Chile and China. Along with Bolivia and Chile it forms a part of the so-called “lithium-triangle” where approximately 75% of the world’s lithium supply can be found under the salt flats which straddle the three countries.
However, recent announcements from both India and Iran suggest the discovery of large lithium deposits which may disrupt the triangle’s dominance.