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Chile Urged to Expand Lithium Sector Beyond SQM, Albemarle (ALB)

Chile’s top mining council, led by Joaquin Villarino, has called on the government to accelerate the expansion of the lithium industry. The council emphasized the need for diversification beyond the current negotiations with SQM and Albemarle (ALB), the nation’s sole lithium producers. As the global demand for electric vehicle batteries surges, Chile’s position as the second-largest lithium producer is at stake due to a shortage of new projects.

President Gabriel Boric’s administration has shifted to public-private partnerships for lithium contracts, tasking Codelco with discussions with SQM and Albemarle. While Codelco aims to finalize an agreement with SQM by year-end, the specifics remain unclear. Albemarle‘s contract extends to 2043.

Villarino warns that overlooking other potential lithium exploration projects could hinder Chile’s industry growth. He suggests that Argentina, with several lithium projects in progress, could attract investors if President-elect Javier Milei revitalizes its economy.

The council’s statement underscores the urgency for Chile to capitalize on lithium market opportunities without delay, as the government plans to offer exploration contracts to private entities next year.

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