The government of Jujuy Province in northern Argentina has declared lithium a strategic mineral, bringing uncertainty to the progress of projects being developed in the region.
A new act, named Decreto 7592/11, states that all present and future lithium projects must be studied by a special expert commission before being approved by local and national authorities.
The decision is aimed at preserving resources in Jujuy—one of three Argentinean provinces with significant lithium reserves—to create value-added industries in the region and jobs for local people.
The commission will be coordinated by the Argentinean Production Ministry and be composed of experts from the Argentinean National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, the University of Jujuy and the Environmental Department of Jujuy.
Following the commission's valuation, the project can then be approved or rejected by the Argentinean Production Ministry and the Provincial Secretary of Jujuy.
"This new regulation will have an impact on the projects that are currently being under evaluation in the province, as it brings new steps and new procedures," said Chile-based Lithium Analyst Daniela Desormeaux.
"It is important to comment that mining legislation is different among Argentinean provinces," added Desormeaux of the signumBOX consultancy.
Companies developing lithium projects in Jujuy Province include Lithium Americas Corp. (TSX:LAC), Orocobre, Dajin Resources and Rodinia Lithium (TSX.V:RM; OTCQX:RDNAF) , which said it was still assessing the impact of the developments, pointed out that its main flagship project in Argentina, Diablillos, was located in neighboring Salta Province.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Argentina has the world's fifth-largest known lithium resources, with an identified 2.6 million tons contained in salt brines.
Argentinean Province Declares Lithium Strategic Mineral
Source: Industrial Minerals, Mark Watts (3/9/11)