Chile’s state miner Codelco has a sense of “urgency” to reach an agreement with lithium miner SQM this year for a new state-controlled public-private partnership, Chairman Maximo Pacheco said Wednesday.
“There’s a sense of urgency to reach a good agreement that allows Chile to become a leader in lithium production,” Pacheco said at a press conference after meeting with Chile’s state development agency, which currently issues lithium contracts.
“We hope to have first agreement with the first company defined this year.”
Pacheco added that he expects to give news in the “coming days” about the start of its conversations with lithium miner SQM.
State-controlled public-private partnerships are the key element of President Gabriel Boric’s new lithium strategy announced last month.
Currently, only SQM and Albemarle mine lithium in the Andean country and the government said it hopes to reach agreements with both by the end of Boric’s administration in 2026.
Albemarle, which has a contract until 2043, has said it doesn’t plan on negotiation until around 2038 while SQM, which has a contract that expires in 2030, has said it will start talks with the government soon.
Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, has been instructed to carry out negotiations SQM and Albemarle, as well as any new companies that plan to mine lithium in the country.
Chile has the world’s largest lithium reserves but has lost its spot as top producer as the industry failed to expand.
(By Fabian Cambero and Isabel Woodford; Editing by Alexander Villegas and Chizu Nomiyama)