The Puna Plateau in the Andes Mountains contains the largest proven deposit of lithium in the world. The Puna Plateau spans over 1,100 miles across Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. Nationalist governments have severely limited the investment and development in lithium production in all three countries. Australia has filled the ever increasing demand for lithium, which is used in lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries.
Argentina’s governing coalition of President Mauricio Marci has under taken economic changes to improve the country’s economy. As a result of Argentina’s current political climate, FMC, a multinational chemical company has increased lithium production at the Salar de Hombre Muerto mine from 17,000 tons to 22,000 tons. Orocobre, an Australian mining company has opened its Olaroz lithium extraction and processing facility. Orocobre plans to expand the Olaroz facility, which will increase production from 17,000 tons to 35,000 tons.
Dozens of exploration companies have raised capital and moved to Argentina to secure mining rights and begin exploration drilling operations. Companies from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are investing heavily in lithium production operations and exploration projects. Investments by companies from the PRC are a result of the China’s commitment to move from fossil fuel to solar power and electric vehicles.