Chile is close to achieving a consensus on how much to hike royalties in the mining sector, Mining Minister Marcela Hernando said on Tuesday, a decision that could have a significant impact on mining majors such as BHP and Antofagasta.
Discussions have been held with the finance ministry on a government aim to gain more revenues for the country from mining, Hernando told an event in London during industry gathering LME Week, without giving details.
Last week, BHP and Antofagasta said a mining royalty bill in the world’s no. 1 copper producer would affect competitiveness and encourage miners to reevaluate investments.
Hernando said the government wanted to raise royalties to around the levels seen in OECD countries, but at the same time it was important for the country to remain competitive.
Chile was also looking for a partner with environmentally friendly technology to extract lithium as the country establishes a national company, she said.
The government of President Gabriel Boric has promised to have the business and operating model of a National Lithium Company ready by the end of the year.
Chile is the world’s second-largest lithium producer, but there has been no government production of the metal key for electric vehicle batteries, unlike copper in which state-run Codelco is a massive presence.
Hernando also reiterated that leftist Boric’s government had no intention of nationalizing the mining sector even as it sought to increase the contribution of mining to society.
(By Eric Onstad; Editing by David Holmes)