Chile opens 26 lithium salt flats to private companies

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Chile has revealed a long-awaited list of lithium-bearing brackish flats that will beryllium unfastened to backstage investors pinch nan extremity of expanding section accumulation of nan artillery metallic by 70% successful a decade, but arsenic the mining curate told MINING.COM past year, it has reserved nan Atacama and Maricunga salars for authorities mostly control.

The announcement provides penetration into President Gabriel Boric’s authorities strategy to instrumentality a nationalist lithium policy announced a twelvemonth ago. The exemplary calls for public-private alliances successful early projects, pinch authorities firms controlling partnerships successful nan astir promising areas, while backstage firms tin return nan mostly liking successful projects located successful little strategical zones.

A tender process for 26 brackish flats will beryllium kicked disconnected successful April and it is expected to reason successful July, nan authorities said. It noted it expects to spot 3 aliases 4 caller projects nether improvement by 2026. 

Atacama and Maricunga, nan 2 brackish flats deemed strategical and arsenic specified reserved to state-controlled partnerships, big a mixed lithium imaginable of 10.8 cardinal tonnes, corresponding to 64% of world reserves.

Nine different brackish flats could lend 3.3 cardinal further tonnes, according to master José Cabello, caput of consulting firm Mineralium.

Officials besides announced nan authorities will create a web of protected brackish flats, which will not beryllium touched arsenic they are located successful National Parks and different environmentally captious protected areas.

Juggling act

Chile is nan world’s apical copper shaper and nan second-largest shaper of lithium aft Australia. Both metals are considered captious commodities for nan world modulation from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

Only 2 companies presently extract lithium successful nan state – Chile’s SQM and US-based Albemarle – some successful nan Atacama brackish flat.

The authorities is trying to juggle securing authorities power of nan manufacture while attracting much backstage capital, protecting nan situation and moving further down nan worth chain. Last year, it tasked state-owned copper shaper Codelco to discuss partnerships pinch each company.

Chilean brackish flatsSome of nan brackish flats identified successful bluish Chile. Only Atacama and Maricunga person been taxable to capable exploration to specify lithium reserves. (Image courtesy of Jose Cabello | Andean Geology, 2022.)

The copper elephantine has already reached a preliminary statement pinch SQM, which is group to past until 2060, but talks pinch Albemarle are ongoing. Earlier this month, Codelco besides finalized nan $254 cardinal acquisition of Australia’s Lithium Power International, which handed nan institution nan Maricunga lithium project, located successful nan namesake brackish flat.

Global request for lithium, according to nan Chile’s ain projections, will quadruple by 2030, reaching 1.8 cardinal tonnes. Available proviso by past is expected to beryllium astatine 1.5 cardinal tonnes. 

Lithium carbonate exports represented 5.3% of full Chilean shipments successful 2023, down from 8.4% nan erstwhile year.

Source Mining News
Mining News