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Sonoran governor says the state will benefit for lithium nationalization

Mexico’s Senate has passed a bill that will nationalize lithium mining in the country. Sonoran leaders are touting that as a win for the state.

Already passedby the lower house of Congress, the bill now goes to the desk of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who submitted the measure to legislators and is expected to sign it into law.

It’s a partial win for Lopez Obrador after a larger energy reform failed to pass this weekend. And it has particular significance for Sonora, where a major lithium deposit is currently controlled by a Chinese company, Ganfeng.

The new law, however, leaves open the possibility that Mexico could strip away that concession, an outcome Sonoran Governor Alfonso Durazo seemed to suggest in recent comments. On Tuesday, he said he will push for Sonora to have a role in a state-run company described in the law, that would have exclusive rights to mine lithium in the country.

Mexico has not yet created such a company and has no experience with lithium production. Lopez Obrador, however, has insisted that the country will develop the technology necessary because the resource belongs to the the Mexican people.

Lithium is used in batteries for electric cars, cellphones and other electronics.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.