Here in Mexico the big midterm elections coming up in June are absorbing a lot of attention right now, but before we talk about that we just wanted to make some comments on a topic currently flying a bit under the radar: Lithium mines. The issue is, prior administrations granted a number of concessions to foreign private companies for the exploration and eventual production of lithium in Mexico, and a small number of these companies have been out in the desert scratching around in hopes of finding a viable mining site. Two things make this more important to Mexico now than it may have seemed a few years ago: First, a massive lithium deposit in the northern state of Sonora is being developed by foreign capital with plans to begin commercial production within two years; and second, Mexico is currently governed by a president who views the private sector — and particularly foreign companies — to be exploiters, thieves and enemies of the nation. Continue reading AMLO to lithium: My precious!
We’re still alive, trying to punch our way out of this rueful economic funk. Here are some reports on recent and upcoming investment culled from local media:
- Automotive: Truck maker Daimler Vehículos Comerciales is reporting that it has doubled production from 35 to 70 units per day at its Saltillo plant over the past three months. The company is investing US$300 million in its plants in the states of Coahuila and Mexico to increase truck production in anticipation of a recovery in demand in the United States in 2010.
- Retail: Retail and real estate group Grupo Gigante recently opened its 200th Office Depot store in Mexico, and projected overall sales growth of 8-9% for 2009 across its formats, despite the steep recession. Gigante projected total investment in Mexico this year at over US$100 million, with two shopping malls under construction and plans to begin work on another in Acapulco.
- Mining: Mexican mining firm Piero Sutti announced the discovery of potentially colossal lithium deposits that could make Mexico one of the world’s largest producers of the metal in the future. Various international manufacturers of electronic equipment have reportedly expressed interest in potentially sourcing lithium from the Piero Sutti mine.
- Tourism: Hotel operator AMResorts recently inaugurated a new resort and spa in Cancun with following investment of US$117 million. The hotel group is reportedly exploring opportunities to build or acquire hotels in Cozumel, Playa Mujeres and other locations in Mexico’s south eastern state of Quintana Roo.
- Hospitality: Hotel operator InterContinental Hotels Group announced ambitious plans to invest US$550 million over the next three years to open 58 new hotels in Mexico. The plans reportedly include the strengthening of the brands Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Mexico, InterContinental’s fourth largest market.
- Electronics: Japan-based electronics manufacturer Yokogawa inaugurated a new manufacturing plant in the State of Mexico, just outside Mexico City. The US$20 million facility is set to produce process control devices, current converters and other electronic equipment.
- Airports: Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (Asur) is nearing completion of major upgrades to the international airport at Cancun. Projects included in the US$67 million upgrade include the construction of a second runway, a control tower and a connecting bridge.
- Automotive: Ford de Mexico is nearing completion of a massive US$3 billion rehabilitation of its former manufacturing plant in Cuautitlán, State of Mexico. The remodeled plant is planned to begin large scale production of the Ford Fiesta in the first quarter of 2010.