What is the gringos’ interest in Sonora: drugs or lithium?

Bacadéhuachi, Sonora. Photo: Silvia Martínez

By: Zosimo Camacho

Will the United States soon stay on the sidelines of the world’s largest exploitation of lithium? Even when this deposit is a few kilometers beyond its southern border? Today, the largest lithium deposit on the planet in the process of being exploited is found in Sonora, Mexico, coincidentally in the direction where women and children of the LeBaron family were massacred.

The unspeakable crime, which occurred last November 4, generated a worldwide scandal and a motive for tension between the Mexican government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the US government of Donald Trump. Hurriedly, the latter proposed initiating a war of extermination against the Mexican cartels. The government of Mexico did not accept such a proposal, although it had to admit, “in a sovereign sense,” the participation of the United States in the investigation of the facts. It’ necessary to remembers that members of the Mormon community to which the Le Barons belong have dual nationality: Mexican and US.

So, on Monday November 11, a caravan of 50 FBI suburban vehicles entered Sonora, with an undetermined number of agents, to carry out investigations of the bloody attack. The Mexican government has warned that all the investigative work is done in the presence and with the consent of Mexican authorities. It has also pointed out that members of the FBI cannot carry weapons in Mexico.

Members of the LeBaron family have traveled to Washington to speak with the president of the United States. By means of a letter they have asked that the United States consider the Mexican drug cartels as “terrorists.” Already in the US Congress the Republicans are lobbying for an initiative to approve such a proposal and Trump has announced that he will send another similar initiative.

It’s worth emphasizing that the US legislation justifies the action of troops and agents, both open and covert, wherever there may be terrorist organizations. And it doesn’t even consider it necessary to have the agreement of the governments of those countries.

On the other hand, lithium has become one of the world’s most coveted minerals. It is already the cause of one of the biggest disputes between the economic (and military) powers. As is known, lithium is the main element for the manufacture of batteries and other cell phone accessories, computers, automobiles, electric cars, spaceships, submarines… It is linked to scientific-technological and military development.

Whoever ensures the supply of this mineral will also ensure victory in the arms, economic, scientific and technological race that today has five pointers: the United States and China at the top and Russia, Israel and the United Kingdom in a close second block.

The State coup in Bolivia, where probably the world’s largest untapped reserves are found, may be the result of this dispute, as Bolivia’s deposed president, Evo Morales, has already said.

Last August 30, the powerful Mining Technology group revealed which are the 10 largest lithium mines in the world. In the list, titled the “Top ten biggest lithium mines in the world,” appears the Sonora Lithium Project in unquestionable first place, with proven and probable reserves of 243.8 million tons. https://www.mining-technology.com/features/top-ten-biggest-lithium-mines/

It reports: “The Sonora Lithium Project, located in Sonora, Mexico, is the largest lithium deposit in development.” and it adds: “it is proposed that Sonora be an open pit operation that is developed in two stages with a first production capacity of 17,500 tons per year of lithium carbonate. The second stage would double the production capacity to 35,000 tons per year.” Thus, it’s estimated that they will be able to extract all the mineral wealth in 19 years.

The other nine lithium deposits in the process of exploitation are in Thacker Pass (Humboldt, Nevada, United States), with proven and probable reserves of 179.4 million tons; Wodgina (Port Hedland, Western Australia), with 151.94; Pilgangoora (Pilbara, Western Australia), with 108.2; Earl Grey (Greenstone, Forestania, Holland, Western Australia), with 94.5; Greenbushes (Western Australia), with 86.4; Whabouchi (James Bay, Quebec, Canada), with 36.6 tons; Pilgangoora (Pilbara, Western Australia), with 34.2; Goulamina (Bougouni, Mali), with 31.2 tons, and Arcadia (Harare, Zimbabwe), with 29.8 million tons.

The project in Mexican territory is already very advanced. The concession was granted during the six-year term of Enrique Peña Nieto and exploitation will begin in 2020. But who will exploit it? As we said, Sonora Lithium is located in the municipality of Bacadéhuachi, in Sonora’s High Sierra, in the same region where the LeBarons were attacked and where the presence of drug trafficking has been for decades. Who controls this region is the armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel: Gente Nueva, Los Salalzar faction.

The company that will exploit it is named Bacanora Minerals. Its headquarters is in Canada; it is listed on the London Stock Exchange but has capital from the governments of… Oman and China. This company has no other businesses or presence in any other part of the world.

Last October 15, the investment of the Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium in Bacanora Lithium was completed. It bought 29.99 percent of the company’s shares and Wang Xiaoshen, Vice President of Ganfeng, was immediately named director of Bacanora Minerals.

It is estimated that the Sonora Lithium Project, with 100,000 hectares, has a value of 1 billion 253 million dollars.

In quiet and under the noses of Uncle Sam, the Chinese are preparing to exploit the most important open pit lithium deposit. The massacre gave a pretext for Donald Trump to put a foot in Sonoran territory. By declaring the cartels “terrorists,” he could put both feet.

Perhaps they are not the oil deposits that the devil wrote for us. With apologies to Ramón López Velarde, the lithium deposits are now revealed as the ones that could attract more demons.

Author: Zósimo Camacho @zosimo_contra


Originally Published in Spanish by Contralinea

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



3 Comments on “What is the gringos’ interest in Sonora: drugs or lithium?

  1. The CIA is the largest drug cartel in the world. It funds its black budget from drugs and can never get enough, no matter how much of the global drug trade it controls. The US appetite for oil and lithium is also insatiable. And since most of the US budget goes to the military, the US is basically a war economy and can never have too many wars. So any excuse will do. Mexico’s best chance of avoiding or surviving a US invasion is to maintain alliances with anti-imperialist superpowers. Libya and Afghanistan are examples of what happens when nations try to go it alone, while Syria and Venezuela are examples of belonging to a broader coalition.

  2. Pingback: Zapatista News & Analysis | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

  3. Pingback: Zapatista News & Analysis, January 2020 – Transnational Solidarity Network

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