LAC Main Seminar Series: Geopolitics of the Li‐ion Battery Supply Chain and the Lithium Triangle in South America

Conveners: David Doyle and Laura Trajber Waisbich, University of Oxford

Speaker: Daniela Sánchez-López, Nyobolt, Cambridge



Climate change and the low‐carbon transition are drastically changing the energy paradigm. A critical aspect is the burgeoning demand for lithium‐ion batteries and the massive amount of minerals and metals that will be required to create them. How and where these resources will be extracted,  transformed, and manufactured, involve contested geopolitical interests that are currently reshaping the global energy map. This presentation will discuss the interdependencies emerging in the lithium extraction and manufacturing of lithium‐ion batteries. In particular, the characteristics of the lithium‐ion battery supply value chain will illustrate that lithium is not just a strategic resource. It has become a material that is part of a much larger geopolitical transformation, with China emerging as the primary global force in terms of technology and battery manufacturing. The presentation will review the different governance frameworks of the South American salt flats of Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, and how each of them set new forms of interdependencies with China in terms of business networks and market access.


China, energy politics, energy supply governance, geopolitics, Li- ion batteries, Lithium Triangle


daniela sanchez lopez

Daniela Sánchez-López is a Bolivian economist with an interdisciplinary background in political science, international development and human geography. She has a master's degree in Development Studies and a doctorate in International Development.

Dr. Sánchez-López has extensive research experience on critical mineral governance and the lithium-ion battery supply chain, socio-environmental conflicts and energy geopolitics. As a research fellow at the University of Cambridge, she focused her work on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in the Lithium Triangle in South America as well as the sociotechnical implications of the new European Union battery regulations.

She also has extensive experience in public policy research in international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP-Bolivia), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and NGOs with regional experience in Latin America. She currently works as an analyst of strategy at Nyobolt, a battery innovation and technology company in the United Kingdom.