MEXICO CITY, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Mexico's government may turn to developing its significant lithium deposits, but only after its oil industry is back on its feet, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday.
That decision is mainly due to budget constraints that require the government to focus on recovering oil output before investing in other areas, Lopez Obrador told reporters at his daily morning press conference.
"In general, what we are doing is prioritizing, because we have many problems -- big, serious problems -- and we have to apply our resources to what we consider to be fundamental, not waste the resources or spread them around," said the president.
"In the energy sector, it was urgent to invest in the exploitation of oil fields to recover production," he said.
According to Lopez Obrador, some government agencies have plans to develop lithium projects, but will have to carry them out with private investment, "because it needs a budget."
Mexico's Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Victor Manuel Toledo on Thursday said officials were consulting with experts about potentially exploiting lithium, a metal that will eventually become "the new oil."
Lopez Obrador aims to increase oil output by at least 50 percent by the end of his term in 2024 by investing to make state oil company Pemex more efficient and productive.
This year, production could reach 1.8 million barrels a day, still far from the 3.4 million barrels a day produced in 2004.