Lithium with a green seal of high purity, oil, and animal protein: an unparalleled scale of exports on the planet.
By Paulo Reganin.
From the Communication Department.
Legale Overseas, No. 240.
Brazil is set to export 130,000 tons of «green lithium» by year-end. The mineral is extracted in the Jequitinhonha Valley, located in the northeastern region of the State of Minas Gerais, and it has received a green seal due to the absence of a tailings dam in its extraction plant.
Lithium is a crucial element used in various industries, including battery production, metal alloys, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. The focus on long-lasting batteries for electric vehicles aligns with the global push for energy transition, making this export significant in the context of sustainable energy sources.
The initial shipment, comprising 15,000 tons of high-purity lithium and 15,000 tons of ultrafine tailings ― produced by the Brazilian company Sigma Lithium ― was sent to the Chinese company Yahua from the port of Vitória in Espírito Santo. Brazil’s Vice President and Minister of Development, Industry, Trade, and Services, Geraldo Alckmin, accompanied the dispatch. Notably, the production process of this «green lithium» does not require a tailings dam, and the water used in the purification step is recyclable as it does not involve chemical agents. The tailings are also stored in a dry and stable manner, and utilized for the recovery of waste minerals, making it an environmentally friendly operation.
The operation is deemed strategically significant for the entire energy transition input chain, emphasizing sustainable sources ― and enhancing the added value of the product.
In May, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, along with the Government of Minas Gerais, announced the launch of the Lithium Valley project in New York (US), seeking to attract international investment to the region. Apart from Brazil’s Sigma Lithium, several other foreign companies have begun establishing operations in northeastern Minas Gerais. This region comprises 10 municipalities, collectively known as the Lithium Valley.
According to the Ministry, these municipalities host Brazil’s largest lithium reserve, consisting of approximately 45 deposits, as revealed by studies conducted by the Geological Survey of Brazil. The agency further indicates that each deposit holds the potential to supply raw material for 20 times longer than the mineral reserves found in other regions, ensuring a long-term supply.
Brazil, along with Chile, Argentina, the United States, Canada, and Australia, is among the countries with the greatest potential for lithium extraction worldwide. However, Brazil’s lithium stands out due to its competitive advantages that optimize investments: unlike many other countries, the lithium found in Minas Gerais is of high purity, making it ideal for the manufacture of more powerful batteries, as explained by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Brazil posts record-breaking
oil and natural gas
production in June
In June, Brazil produced 4.324 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Of this total, 3.367 million were oil and 152.258 million cubic meters were natural gas ― the highest ever recorded. The figures were disclosed on Tuesday (8/1), in the monthly report by National Petroleum Agency (ANP). The production of oil saw a 5.2% increase from May and a 19% surge from June 2022. This represents the largest volume of oil production ever documented, surpassing the record set in January 2023, with a production of 3.274 million barrels per day.
As for natural gas, output rose by 5.4% from the previous month and 14.6% higher than in June 2022. This also sets a new record, exceeding the production level from October 2022, which stood at 149 million cubic meters per day.
The offshore fields accounted for 97.6% of the oil production in June and 83.2% of the natural gas. The fields operated by PETROBRAS ― either independently or in partnership with other companies ― accounted for 88.3% of the total.
The amount stemmed from 6,305 wells, with 514 located offshore and 5,791 onshore. Leading the individual production charts was the Tupi field, located in the pre-salt reserves of the Santos basin, contributing 790 thousand barrels of oil per day and 37.78 million cubic meters of natural gas per day.
Brazil foresees surge
in meat production
Brazil is set to produce 29.6 million tons of beef, pork, and poultry this year, according to the Brazilian supply authority (CONAB). The increase in production will be driven by pork, which is expected to reach 5.32 million tons in 2023, up 2.7% from last year. This is the highest volume ever recorded in the country. Beef production should total some 9 million tons, up 4.5%. The increase was already expected due to the livestock cycle, with higher female slaughter leading to a larger supply of meat in the market.
As for poultry, the estimated output is 15.21 million tons, up 2.9 percent. The good production ― and reports of avian flu in Europe, Japan, and the US, for example ―, has raised demand for Brazilian meat. So far, the Latin American nation has remained free of the disease in commercial production.
The agency also forecasts record-breaking meat exports, reaching upwards of 9 million tons. In the case of pork, exports are expected to grow by 10.1%, adding up to 1.22 million tons. As for poultry, external sales are projected to grow by approximately 10.2%, reaching a new record of 5.12 million tons.
Beef exports, however, are likely to slip 3.3% from last year, impacted by slower shipments in early 2023. The projected beef exports stand at 2.91 million tons. According to CONAB, despite the rise in exports, the availability of meat in the domestic market is expected to increase by 2.4 percent, reaching 20.44 million tons, the second highest in this time series.
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