German automaker BMW has signed a deal whereby Livent, a company that has invested US $ 640 million to extract lithium in the Argentine province of Catamarca, will become the brand's second-largest supplier of the mineral in 2022.
Lithium is essential in the production of batteries for electric vehicles as the world transitions towards a more environment friendly source of energy.
Livent's US $ 334 million agreement with BMW places Argentina right behind Australia in terms of lithium production, according to the US company's CFO Gilberto Antoniazzi.
This demand for lithium carbonate will be covered with the expansion of the Fénix Project, which will allow an increase in lithium production in the Salar del Hombre Muerto de Antofagasta de la Sierra, in Catamarca, it was explained.
The growing production of lithium in Argentina will help the country become a technological producer for South America and other regions, based on the local industrialization of the lithium chain as an essential resource for the energy transition and the so-called green revolution, according to local press reports.
Argentina has a potential investment in lithium mining worth around US $ 6,4 billion dollars with 19 ongoing projects.
Production is expected to grow tenfold and reach 373.5 thousand tons from its current capacity of 37.5 thousand tons.
By March 2021, lithium mining was the source of 1,581 direct jobs, which would show an activity which has not slowed down during the harshest months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the onset of the disease, the activity accounted for 1,606 workers.
Regarding global production, Argentina ranked fourth worldwide with 7.4% of the market share in 2019, after Australia (52.2%), Chile (22.4%) and China (12.5%).