Chili and France signed this Thursday two memorandums of understanding to promote research projects for the “sustainable” exploitation of copper and lithiumagreements in which French companies and research centers meet with Chilean public actors.
“Today we have finalized two agreements between French companies and the Government of France, with cochilco and ENAMI, who are going to contribute resources. In the case of ENAMI we are going to be working with green hydrogen as a source of energy for small miners in Chile and in the case of Cochilco, we are going to carry out a study regarding the value chains that are feasible to carry out in our country in lithium matter”, Chilean Mining Minister Marcela Hernando stated.
“This has been a tremendously fruitful exchange, there are a lot of French companies that are interested and, as they stated in our meeting, they want to come and set up shop and add value to minerals and metals Chileans in our territory”, he added.
The meeting was held by Hernando with the Delegate Minister of Foreign Trade, Attractiveness and French Abroad, Olivier Becht, with whom he established a first dialogue on strategic minerals and metals in the South American country.
The French authority, for its part, is visiting with a delegation made up of research operators (CEA and BRGM) and French companies in the sector (Eramet, Geolith, Blue Solutions, Stellantis, Nexans, Vridian Lithium).
“We have not only come in search of business opportunities for lithium and, thus, create batteries and carry out the energy transition in Europe. We would like to do so, first, within the framework of a common prosperity in Chili and France with value chains that will produce added value here in Chile and for Chileans”, said the French minister.
He added that they will also seek “innovation based on research for a development that will protect the environment with social responsibility in mining extraction” and “even more so that local communities, such as indigenous peoples, are equally respected.”
The “Lithium Triangle” brings together almost 50 million metric tons of this mineral, according to data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the largest reserves (the exploitable fraction of lithium) are found in Chile (9.2 million).
The three countries that make up this zone have exploited the resource with different yields: Argentina has expanded its portfolio of projects, bolivian seeks to attract foreign investment State-controlled and Chile has kept it in the hands of two large private companies (the Chilean SQM and the American Albermarle), until now.
In 2022, the State received more than US$5 billion for the exploitation of this mineral, equivalent to 1.6% of GDP, according to the Autonomous Fiscal Council (CFA).
Chile is the second world producer of lithiumbehind Australia, but Argentina can gain positions in the coming years and leave it behind.
In 2022 there were sales of lithium carbonate abroad for US$ 7,763 million, an increase of 777% compared to 2021, according to the Central Bank. With this performance, lithium carbonate surpassed salmon, iron and cherries in the Chilean export basket.
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