Chile’s lithium model gets conditional nod of approval from UN commission

The Maricunga salt flat is located in northern Chile, home to the largest and highest quality lithium brine deposits. (Image courtesy of The Sophisticated Investor | Vimeo)

Chile’s new public-private participation model for lithium received a conditional endorsement from the United Nations.

“There is an integral nature in this strategy that allows trust, transparency and certainty,” said Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, executive secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Still, it’s success will depend on “the quality of management.”

The government of left-leaning President Gabriel Boric is introducing a model that will see the state take a controlling stake in operations considered strategically significant, while awarding contracts for non-strategic areas in which private firms would control operations.

While one model “isn’t intrinsically superior to another,” Chile’s strategy has been well received by some private players including the two incumbents SQM and Albemarle Corp., Salazar-Xirinachs said at an event in Santiago held to unveil an ECLAC report on lithium mining and industrialization.

“There is enormous national and foreign interest in investing more given Chile is the great power in terms of deposits worldwide,” he said. The extraction and industrialization “promises enormous use and benefits for this country.”

(By James Attwood)


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