Investors have responded positively to Chile’s new public-private participation model for lithium during Finance Minister Mario Marcel’s trip to New York this week.
“The kind of response that we get from these discussions is pretty positive,” Marcel said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “Joint ventures is a very usual way of engaging, particularly in mining industries. So for foreign investors, it is not particularly surprising that this is the alternative that the Chilean government is offering.”
In April, President Gabriel Boric announced a new strategy that will put the state in a central role to develop the lithium industry, as demand from producers of electric vehicle batteries soars.
The government plans to submit a bill to Congress later this year to create a national lithium company that would own a stake in new projects and at least 51% of all operations in areas deemed strategic. In the meantime, it has assigned state copper producer Codelco the task of negotiating new contracts with SQM and Albemarle Corp., to give the state majority stakes of their current projects.
Authorities plan to offer exploration permits to private parties in the first half of 2024. In a presentation at the annual Chile Day investors event, Marcel said the administration expects four to five new projects to be underway by 2025.
(By Carolina Gonzalez)