The government of Chili has dealt in recent months with 46 investors from 12 countries interested in exploiting the lithiumto which it has presented its “national strategy”, which seeks that the extraction of this crucial mineral for the energy transition generates added value.
Is about “create a lithium industry that generates added value”stressed to EFE on Wednesday the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, Claudia Sanhueza, in Paris, where she is participating in the annual ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Sanhueza did not want to give names or details about the interested companies. He just said it will be done “later” and that the will of your Government is to start the exploitation “as a matter of urgency” but also “Step by Step”.
He only advanced that there are potential investors from different regions of the world, and he specifically referred to Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Regarding the deadline that has been set, the only thing he wanted to advance is that “We hope this is ready during this Government”.
Chile claims to have a 36% of the known resources of this mineral in the world and a week ago it launched its National Lithium Strategy which, among other things, foresees the creation of a state company with which private companies that enter the business would have to associate.
Asked if that national company should have majority control in these public-private alliances, the undersecretary acknowledged that the rules have not yet been established, nor are the “conditions of environmental and social sustainability”.
In any case, he indicated that international commitments must be respected in all spheres, and recalled that “Chile is a highly integrated country”which has established agreements with 65 economies around the world.
In addition, he stressed that the National Lithium Strategy raises the question that its exploitation is not limited only to mining extraction, but also to refining. An activity that is currently almost completely monopolized by China.
In the coming days, the Chilean Executive will publish a report on what lithium currently represents in economic terms. Without giving figures, Sanhueza advanced that “We know it’s very relevant.”
On the other hand, the undersecretary confirmed that she hopes that the new association agreement between the European Union (EU) and Chile “It will be signed at the end of this year.”
This new agreement, which is a renewal of the one that both parties established two decades ago, had begun to negotiate in 2017 and was concluded in December 2022.
Now, the text must go through a complex process of legal scrutiny and translation to proceed to the signature.
Sanhueza highlighted its importance, because in addition to facilitating mutual access, headings on investment in raw materials have been incorporated, for example incentives for European companies, and the commitment to create a permanent court to resolve disputes.
The new version is expected to allow Chile to export more salmon, chicken, pork, cereals or chocolate to the European bloc, which in turn will have greater access to Chilean raw materials and will have better insured its investments.
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