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Chilean govt. retains majority stake in lithium production in Chile

Salar de Atacama [geometric shapes at the bottom right] – Chile’s largest salt flat. At about 3000 sq km, it is the world’s third-largest salt flat as well as one of the largest active sources of lithium. Image courtesy: European Space Agency.

The Chilean government on Thursday (Dec. 28) announced that the State will have a historic 50%+1 stake in lithium production in the country with the State-owned Copper Company (CODELCO) leading the development of the industry in the coming decades.

Earlier in April, President Gabriel Boric unveiled the National Lithium Strategy and directed the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) to work with CODELCO to find the best strategy that will ensure sustainable exploration and production of lithium and other mineral substances in the Salat de Atacama region. Following the initial discussion, the State-owned CODELCO and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) have finally formed a common partnership wherein beginning January 1, 2025, a majority stake (50% plus one share) held by the State through CODELCO will allow operations to continue in the Salar de Atacama until 2060.

"Thanks to this agreement, from 2025, the Chilean State, local communities, and in particular, the Antofagasta Region will benefit in various ways, receiving: dividends as shareholders; lease payments, royalties, and general taxes; assurances of the operational continuity of the work; and increases in the production and sale quota of lithium," said Gabriel Boric, President of Chile.

With the latest agreement, the Chilean State will see an increase in its benefits as it will also receive profits as a shareholder, in addition to the taxes and lease payments that CORFO receives beginning in 2025.

In May, CODELCO with SQM began negotiations to form a public-private association aimed at jointly developing productive and commercial lithium activities, and the latest agreement is an outcome of the series of dialogues initiated since the launch of Chile's National Lithium Strategy. 

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Author : Shraddha Kakade
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