Mining minister says Chile will reveal plans for state lithium company
Chile’s mining minister, Marcela Hernando sad the company hopes to establish by the end of the year a model for a state-run lithium firm that will develop the battery metal.
Reuters reported that the government of new leftist President Gabriel Boric, like administrations in Mexico and Argentina, has shown that it is keen to get more closely involved in the booming market for lithium, which has seen prices soar over the last year.
Chile is the world’s second largest producer of lithium, a key component for electric car batteries, with its domestic industry currently dominated by two private firms Albemarle Corp and SQM.
Hernando said a specialized group was being formed to define the best design to operate the company.
“We hope to have the proposal for how this company will be as an institution and the business model in which it will operate before the end of the year,” she said.
The minister reiterated that the government was open to the participation of private capital in the firm, although with the state as the main shareholder.
President Boric, who came into office in March, said during the election campaign that Chile should not commit the “historic mistake” of privatizing its resources again and reiterated his interest in creating the company for the development of lithium.
Hernando added that lithium would not be included in the plans to apply a mining royalty, as part of an ambitious tax agenda promoted by the government.
“The evaluations we have made is that it is very complex, since lithium is an industry that is not very mature,” she said.