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Mexican president courts private investment for new state lithium company

Kitco News

MEXICO CITY, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday urged the private sector to work with his new state-run lithium company, which aims to position Mexico as a key player in the electric car battery market.

"We wouldn't have enough for it to be only public. It requires a lot of investment," Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference.

The government expects the state miner named Litio para Mexico, or Lithium for Mexico, to launch within six months, but has given few details on how it will operate. Mexico does not yet have commercial lithium production, though close to a dozen foreign companies hold contracts to explore potential deposits. The president noted U.S. automaker Ford Motor assembles vehicles in the northern state of Sonora and said he is working on a plan to lure more car manufacturers and electric vehicle battery producers with public and private investment.

Lopez Obrador said that Pablo Taddei, son of the federal welfare ministry's delegate in Sonora, Jorge Taddei, will direct operations of the lithium company after he finishes his doctorate in November.

Lopez Obrador nationalized Mexico's lithium deposits in April, hoping to cash in on surging demand for the metal.

Industry experts told Reuters this month that state involvement in Mexico's lithium business would likely put the brakes on private investment. Bolivia is giving advice to the Mexican government for the mining of the metal, since it already holds contracts with countries such as Germany, China and the United States to exploit the metal, Lopez Obrador added.

The president noted Mexico shares with the United States the goal of commercializing only electric vehicles in future and set the date for the industry change between 2030 and 2035.

(Reporting by Valentine Hilaire Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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