Saudi-backed Almar Water seeks lithium partnership in Chile

Credit: Almar Water Solutions

Almar Water Solutions, part of Saudi Arabian group Abdul Latif Jameel, is looking to form a partnership with Chile’s state mining giant Codelco in its planned Maricunga lithium mining project, Almar’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

The Spain-based firm, which focuses on water solutions for renewable energy production, wants to leverage its technology in the extraction of battery-metal lithium, a water-intensive process, CEO Carlos Cosin told Reuters.

Chile is the world’s second-largest lithium producer and the world’s dominant copper producer. Lithium is needed in production of the batteries used in electric vehicles.

Water supply is a major challenge for the lithium industry, following persistent drought in the Andean nation.

“We have three things: financial capacity, local presence and access to the technology,” Cosin said. “We are not a company that is interested in selling lithium, it is not our business.”

Copper miner Codelco has hired investment bank Rothschild to find a partner for its Maricunga project after being tasked by the government to boost the state’s role in the lithium sector. Codelco hopes to select a partner in the first quarter next year.

Cosin said Almar, as part of a Saudi conglomerate, would be able to bring in another strong financial partner if included in a consortium to develop the Maricunga salt flat. Its technology can be used in metal separation in the microelectronics industry, direct lithium extraction and battery recycling.

(By Fabián Andrés Cambero; Editing by Rod Nickel)


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