Argentina is the world’s fourth-largest lithium producer, as Chinese companies continue to expand their operations in the South American nation’s northern provinces to procure this precious, critical mineral. Argentina’s lithium reserves make the country a vital player in the global energy and critical minerals race. Although lithium can be hugely profitable for the Argentine government and population, having the attention of two global superpowers, China and the United States, requires diplomatic finesse and a short and long-term strategy.
General Richardson’s visits Buenos Aires
US Army General Laura Richardson, commander of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), arrived in Argentina on 16 April “to meet with leaders to discuss security cooperation. Argentina is a trusted regional security partner. This is Richardson’s 2nd official visit to Argentina,” said SOUTHCOM.
The SOUTHCOM commander has made several public remarks about China being a US competitor in the Western Hemisphere, while a recurring concern for Washington is China’s presence in Latin America and its drive to obtain precious commodities, including minerals like lithium. As recently as this past March, during a hearing at the US House of Representatives, the general said, “when you talk to the US ambassadors in Chile and Argentina and the companies that are there, China’s aggressiveness and the ground game they have with lithium is very advanced and very aggressive.” She also noted that Latin America “is full of resources, and I am concerned about the malign activity of our adversaries who are taking advantage of it, pretending they are investing when in fact, they are extracting.”