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HomeBusinessPresident Gabriel Boric says Chile plans to nationalize lithium industry

President Gabriel Boric says Chile plans to nationalize lithium industry

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Wikimedia Image Source Gabriel Boric asume como nuevo Presidente de Chile
Author Gobierno de Chile

On Thursday, Chilean President Gabriel Boric said that his country is planning to nationalize its huge lithium reserves. Chile is the second largest producer of lithium. The metal is of great importance in the present and in the coming decades as it is essential for the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries. The President of Chile said that the step had been taken to boost the economy and to share the nation’s wealth with its indigenous population.

Currently industry giants SQM and Albemarle control the vast lithium operations across the country. Over time, the government is planning to transfer these operations to a separate company that would be owned by the government.

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In an address that was televised across the nation, Boric said that it was “an opportunity for economic growth that would be difficult to beat in the short term.”

The Chilean President added that it was the “best chance” the country had to transition into a “sustainable and developed economy.” He added that they could not “afford to waste it.”

Boric also said that contracts for the metal would be issued as public-private partnerships. He also expressed a hope that companies who already had current contracts would remain open to participation by the state before the expiry of these contracts.

Tesla, LG Energy as well as other companies have been obtaining their lithium supplies from SQM and Albemarle in Chile. As of now, Tesla’s contract with SQM is set to expire in 2030.

Neither SQM nor Albemarle have commented, as of now.

State owned Codelco, which is the largest producer of copper in the world, will join with state miner Enami to explore and extract lithium.

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There will be a separate division to advance technology that minimizes environmental impacts. This point was welcomed by Summit Nanotech Corp., a privately held company that is developing direct lithium extraction technology, a more sustainable method to extract the metal. Summit recently opened an office in Santiago, Chile.

Congress has to approve the above plan. President Boric said that the plan would be presented to the legislature in Chile, in the second half of 2023.

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