The Secretary for Strategic Affairs, Mercedes Marcó del Pont, took part in the conference “Energy transition and industrial development” which took place in the Conadu auditorium in Buenos Aires. She referred to the potential of the lithium industry in the country and said that “the challenges posed by the energy transition are not solved by the market. We have to create the game rules that, among other aspects, guarantee the availability of a quota of lithium for industrialisation in the country”.
Along these lines, the official assured: “Lithium is a strategic mineral that, in a very short time, is going to be over-demanded. We need to make a clear political decision to promote the value addition and the job creation, because, otherwise, we run the risk of consolidating an extractivist model. “Our objective is to reduce territorial gaps through the localisation of productive investments in the lithiferous provinces,” he said.
The event organised by the Fundación de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo (FIDE) and the Escuela Interdisciplinaria de Altos Estudios Sociales (IDAES-UNSAM) was attended by the Secretary of Industry and Productive Development, José Ignacio de Mendiguren; the Secretary of International Economic Relations, Cecilia Todesca; and the researcher of the Institute of International Studies of the University of Chile and former Chilean Undersecretary of International Economic Relations, José Miguel Ahumada.
The potential of the lithium industry
During his speech, De Mendiguren stated: “The world has given us an opportunity not to be left behind in this agenda. Argentina is a global public asset, it has all the resources that the industry needs and we have to take advantage of this moment to make the definitive leap towards development”, in the conversation that was moderated by the Undersecretary of Strategy for Development, Verónica Robert.
For the Secretary of Industry and Productive Development “the energy transition has to go hand in hand with industrial policy and be a lever for development, we have the political decision to accompany this sector and its entire value chain to insert ourselves into the new production trends”. “We do not want to be tenants of our raw materials, we want to participate in the development of our own technologies at the highest level”.
In turn, Todesca explained that “we are facing a transformation of the global production map and the energy transition offers an opportunity for development”. “Argentina will not to receive lots of investments to generate employment and innovation; to achieve this, we need to enhance our industrial, scientific and technological policy environment,” she said.
In this sense, Ahumada’s speech highlighted the value of the process undertaken by the Chilean government with lithium over the last few years, where the role of the State and the existence of a quota for the domestic market are tools that allow progress are a real possibility. We have a window of opportunity within the framework of the energy transition and global disputes over the control of technologies,” Ahumada said.
For the Chilean researcher and former civil servant, “lithium can become a catalyst for technical and industrial progress if there is a political decision coordinated with a general development plan, our countries have the market power to improve the terms of negotiations and safeguard productive policy spaces, such as ensuring the existence of a quota for the local market”.
Finally, Marcó del Pont pointed out that “what is at risk if we do not act is the deindustrialisation and the loss of capacities in relevant sectors such as the automotive sector. The path towards electromobility is already underway”. “Argentina needs to guarantee game policies and rules to link the possibility of having the raw material, of advancing in the chain of resources’ industralisation, but also of advancing the production of electric cars in our country,” she said.