President Gabriel Boric’s bold plan mandates that any company seeking to mine lithium in Chile must form a partnership with the government, with the state possessing a controlling stake.
The innovative strategy seeks to not only expand lithium extraction but also utilize cutting-edge eco-friendly technology and incorporate the perspectives of local Indigenous communities.
Executives from China’s Tianqi, a significant shareholder in SQM, expressed their investment intentions during a meeting in December. Similarly, LG Energy and France’s Eramet indicated their interest in forming alliances, with the latter looking to explore a partnership in its 120,000-hectare lithium concession in the Atacama region.
According to the local paper El Mercurio, Eugenio Grandio, Tesla’s regional business development manager, engaged in discussions with government officials about strategies for electric mobility.
Tesla’s representatives had held meetings with Chilean ministers before Boric unveiled the country’s new lithium strategy in early 2023.
Chile is already home to two of the world’s largest lithium producers, Albemarle (NYSE: ALB) and SQM (NYSE: SQM), which have existing operations in the country, the second-largest lithium producer globally.
Just before the close of 2023, SQM, a Chilean lithium miner, secured a deal with copper giant Codelco for the future development and production of lithium in the Atacama salt flat. The partnership is set to commence in 2025 and extend until 2060.
While Albemarle’s current contract with Chile expires in 2043, CEO Kent Masters has indicated a willingness to engage in negotiations before the deadline.