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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, an Arizona native, reports from KJZZ’s bureau in Hermosillo, Sonora, focusing on business and economic relationships between Arizona and northern Mexico.Prior to joining KJZZ, Kendal worked at the Nogales International, reporting on border and immigration issues, local government, education and business. While working on her master’s degree at University of Arizona School of Journalism, she did stints with the Arizona Daily Star and the Tico Times in Costa Rica, and completed a thesis project about women art activists in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands.In her pre-journalist life, Kendal was a teacher, first helping Spanish high school students learn English, then heading to Tucson to teach fourth grade.When she’s not in the newsroom, Kendal enjoys getting outside for a hike or a swim, catching a good movie, hanging out with family and friends, and eating great food.