The innovation platform spoke with Javier Alvarez of the British Argentine Chamber of Commerce about the strength of the lithium sector in Argentina.

As sales of electric vehicles (EVs) increase, so does the demand for EV batteries, which will lead to lithium consumption over the next decade. To keep up with this growing demand, there must be an increase in lithium production. Already the world’s fourth leading lithium producer, Argentina is poised to play a critical role in the global transition to electric vehicles.

Argentina, along with Bolivia and Chile, is located within the lithium triangle, where most of the world’s lithium reserves can be found. Argentine authorities want to ensure that this resource is used and will begin to strengthen lithium production and processing capacity in the country in the coming years.

The innovation platform Emily Potts spoke with Javier Alvarez, President of the British Argentine Chamber of Commerce, about the strength of Argentina’s lithium sector and its ability to support the global energy transition.

For starters, please, can you outline the role of the British Argentine Chamber of Commerce? What are his current goals?

Founded in London in 1995, the British Argentine Chamber of Commerce (BACC) is a British non-profit limited company that brings together more than 50 companies and individuals with business interests in the United Kingdom and Argentina. Our core community is based in the United Kingdom and we are made up of a board of directors and individual members.

The chamber aims to promote trade and business between the two countries. We are currently meeting our goal through an agenda of high-level networking activities, such as meetings with Argentine officials and meetings with companies and individuals interested in specific sectors such as energy or mining.

Can you tell us more about the current efforts of the BACC and its contribution in particular to the energy sector?

Over the last few years, we have worked with various companies with an interest in the United Kingdom and Argentina. For example, we have had members and management companies listed on the London Stock Exchange that operate in Argentina. We also join specific meetings to share information about new projects or news from the regulatory framework that could be relevant to people interested in mining.

We recently hosted a meeting with the support of the Embassy of Argentina and the Ministry of International Trade to discuss current mining opportunities in Argentina with our members of the Investment and Mining Sector and the Minister of Mines of the Argentine Republic. We are currently organizing several activities for this coming year, which will provide networking opportunities for people interested in Argentina’s energy sector.

Why is the UK-Argentina relationship important for exploiting the potential of materials such as lithium, in the UK and around the world, and how are the two countries working together to achieve this?

He has a proven history of British investment and a contribution to the development of important sectors in Argentina. For example, the development of the Argentine railway network in the early 20th century involved the participation of British technology, investment and individuals. Many British professionals moved to Argentina to be part of this project and developed one of the largest rail networks in America.

Due to the UK’s significant knowledge of battery development, the country has a new opportunity to work with Argentina’s lithium sector. UK businesses can provide financial instruments to support the development of projects that specialize in the sustainable extraction of critical minerals. The United Kingdom has the technology and experience to encourage private investment in new energy development. The global transition to electric vehicles will be supported by the UK’s partnership with Argentina, as Argentina has a key role to play in the production of lithium used for batteries.

What role can lithium play in supporting the global energy transition, and how is Argentina positioned to support this transition?

Lithium is one of the most important components in the production of EV batteries and for energy storage and currently has no clear substitute for the mineral. For this reason, lithium is an important critical mineral to facilitate the energy transition. Demand for lithium will increase as countries around the world strive to meet their respective targets for electric vehicles. Production must increase in order to increase demand.

Argentina, along with Bolivia and Chile, is in the lithium triangle – one of the largest reserves of lithium in the world. Argentina has a proven approach to lithium production that meets environmental, social and management (ESG) requirements for local communities. Lithium mining in Argentina improves the quality of life of residents by providing job opportunities and through the development of the region.

The country has shown a clear goal in promoting its activities and plays a very important global role. There are currently several projects at different stages, namely the stages of pre-production, pre-visibility and visibility. We believe that the commitment of the provinces that have lithium resources in Argentina has also shown a clear willingness to promote this process in a sustainable way. The facts are there to ensure that Argentina expands its production in the coming years.

© iStock / xeni4ka

Do you think that Argentina’s lithium sector needs more investment and attention to reach its full potential?

Argentina has the resources to provide an important percentage of lithium demand during the energy transition process. Numerous business opportunities allow the entry of international players, such as partnering with local companies and conducting visibility studies. With the commitment of local provinces, there are clear paths to a sustainable approach. For example, governors, local authorities and local parliaments are building a framework for cooperation to allow international players to join the opportunity that Argentina’s lithium sector represents, while ensuring that lithium production complies with ESG requirements.

Investments in several projects are needed to unlock Argentina’s production potential. Then the Argentine government will strive to achieve its vision of vertical integration, from lithium production to battery production in the medium term.

Lithium production
© iStock / conejota

What are the current BACC targets for 2022 and beyond?

Our goal is to be an institution for companies that are interested in gathering more information about the potential of projects and are interested in learning more about the framework regarding Argentina’s superficial considerations. We connect companies and individuals from the United Kingdom and Argentina by investment or service.

BACC facilitated meetings with companies and individuals to provide important information on the various government structures involved and the regulatory environment. We are also organizing a large Argentine-United Kingdom for contacts, which will take place in November and will have a strong focus on energy transition and energy density.

Argentina faces some short-term challenges in developing a green economic agenda. However, Argentina’s soybean scheme has shown that the country can produce goods sustainably and is able to produce goods globally, while respecting decades of growing demand. Lithium is a product that the world needs, like soy, and we believe that the framework will be very similar in terms of capacity to export critical goods worldwide.

Javier Alvarez
British Argentine Chamber of Commerce

Please note that this article will also appear in the tenth edition of ours quarterly publication.

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The role of Argentina’s lithium sector in the global energy transition

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