Lithium Sales Push Argentina’s Mining Exports to 10-Year High

Argentina’s mining exports have reached a 10-year high last year, thanks to a surging lithium income as the South American nation aims to increase profits further from the battery metal key to meeting soaring demand for electric vehicles (EVs). Lithium sales helped push the country’s mining exports to $3.86 billion last year, the highest in a decade, even as the country suffer from triple digit annual inflation and droughts hampering agricultural output, one of Argentina’s key export goods.

Last year, the country’s lithium exports have soared 234% from a year earlier, thanks to both high demand and skyrocketing prices of the white metal. Lithium accounted for nearly one fifth of all Argentine mining exports.

In a rare bright spot for the country’s ailing economy, last year’s trend shows no sign of slowing.

During the first two months of this year, exports of the battery metal more than doubled, from a year earlier, with February shipments pulling in a record $58 million.

The ministry forecasts $6 billion of mining revenues this year, in part boosted by two new lithium projects set to launch as well as a pair of major expansions underway.

A scramble for the metal has caused its price to skyrocket, which in turn has motivated companies and investors alike.

Some of the world’s largest mining companies have operations in northern Argentina’s lithium rich salt flats, including China’s Ganfeng and U.S. miner Livent, which will supply lithium for BMW vehicles.

Mining industry investment since 2020 totals some $11.3 billion, including $5.1 billion for lithium and $4.9 billion for copper, also key to energy transition technologies, including EVs.

Spanning Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, South America’s so-called “lithium triangle” accounts for more than half of global lithium supplies.

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