As China ties up global lithium, Asian rivals must bet big on South America
South America’s lithium triangle is the lowest-cost place to
produce the vital battery ingredient, but political hurdles will require
Japanese and South Korean companies to make big investments to crack into the
region as they chase Chinese rivals who have tied up resources in other parts
of the world.
Even China, the leader in the global race for the metal used
in batteries for everything from smartphones to electric cars, has had its
efforts thwarted in the lithium triangle of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, home
to around two thirds of global reserves.
Because of China’s problems, market experts say the lithium
triangle is one place South Korean and Japanese auto and battery makers can
The race will go to whichever producers can best navigate
policy obstacles in all three countries.