Why Cashing in on Lithium in South America Won't Be Easy

Jun 15, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

A lithium ion battery is on display at a technology trade show in the united states.

As battery technology grows in importance to a wide variety of products, some countries will become poised to profit off the lithium used in rechargeable batteries.

(David Becker/Getty Images)


  • Argentina, Bolivia and Chile will increase in importance as the global demand for lithium rises.
  • Political, logistical and regulatory challenges will prevent the three countries from developing their lithium reserves to their full potential.
  • Because of Chile's quotas and Argentina's shift in economic outlook, Chile is likely to benefit most from the larger global demand for lithium.

South America is home to a veritable goldmine. The mountainous border region shared by Argentina, Bolivia and Chile -- dubbed the South American lithium triangle -- holds some of the world's largest reserves of lithium, making it poised to rise in importance as the demand for the globe's "new oil" increases in the years to come. However, a host of political and regulatory risks, as well as logistical impediments, will hamper the development of lithium in the area, meaning the only country to fully benefit from the riches that lie beneath could be Chile. ...

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