LIMA – Peru wants to produce lithium batteries domestically, a government official said on Wednesday, joining other Latin American nations with lofty ambitions to industrialize their resources of the ultralight metal needed to power electric vehicles.
“We are already starting to act to see if we can develop a battery industry,” said Jaime Chavez, Peru’s vice minister of mines, at the Perumin mining industry conference.
Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer and an attractive destination for global miners. It has some lithium deposits in the southern region of Puno which are currently being explored by American Lithium.
But those deposits are significantly smaller than those in the so-called Lithium Triangle, made up of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
Batteries made from the ultralight metal lithium are key to meeting the growing demand for electric vehicles as part of a transition away from combustion engines.
“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,” Chavez said.
To be sure, Peru currently produces no lithium and no country in Latin America produces lithium batteries at a commercial scale even if they do mine lithium.
Chile and Argentina rank as the world’s No. 2 and No. 4 top producers of unrefined lithium, respectively. Bolivia has the world’s largest lithium resources but has for years struggled to mine them at a commercial scale.
Mexico nationalized its lithium resources earlier this year and announced a state lithium mining company but has yet to start lithium production.