Chile hopes to start negotiations soon with Albemarle as part of the government’s plan to gain majority control of lithium mining projects, Mining Minister Marcela Hernando said on Tuesday.
The plan was launched in April to acquire control of new strategic projects and the company’s current operations in the Atacama.
“They (Albemarle) have only verbally stated that their interest is to start negotiations as soon as possible,” Hernando told reporters after a presentation of a report on lithium price and production projections.
In a statement sent to Reuters, the minister clarified that state-owned copper miner Codelco had been assigned to handle the talks and that the government would respect the current contract which ends in 2043. Codelco recently started talks with SQM about its contract which expires in 2030.
“Although I would like it to be as soon as possible, what is clear is that the State will fully respect the current contracts and the negotiations to reach a public-private partnership will take place in a period close to the end of the contract in 2043,” Hernando said.
Albemarle declined to comment.
Albemarle said earlier this month it was open to renegotiating its lithium contract in Chile before 2043, but planned to do so towards the end of its contract and would seek access to more deposits in the South American country.
(By Fabian Cambero and Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Richard Chang)