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Chile and EU to cooperate on lithium projects

Chile and the European Union will be signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) shortly to develop value-added lithium projects in Chile, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said on Wednesday.

Von der Leyen told reporters at a joint press conference with Chilean President Gabriel Boric that the two parties had agreed to form a strategic partnership in order to expand lithium and boost supply chains.

“The demand for lithium is expected to grow significantly on both our continents because we are working to decarbonize our economies and here the critical raw materials play a great role. There’s no wind turbine without lithium, for example, there’s no battery without critical raw materials. This is why we have agreed we want to work on a strategic partnership on sustainable raw materials and the whole value chain,” said the head of the European Commision.

Chile launched a plan in April to expand lithium mining in the country through state-controlled public-private partnerships in an effort to reclaim its status as the world’s leading lithium producer.

Chile was the world leader in lithium production until six years ago, when Australia, where lithium is extracted from hard rock, took the lead. In 2022, Australia mined approximately 47% of world lithium supply, while Chile – roughly 30%.

China is third, followed by Argentina, which supplies roughly 5% of the world. While that South American competitor’s market share remains limited, the country has become an appealing place for development after opening its doors to foreign investment.

The global demand for lithium is predicted to rise over 40 times by 2040 as “the white gold” is a main particle used in electric car batteries.

Both leaders also announced additional projects as part of the EU-Chile green hydrogen program. A new renewable hydrogen project in Chile will be funded by the “Team Europe Fund for Renewable Hydrogen in Chile” program.

The fund will have more than 200 million euros, with the majority of the funds coming from the European Investment Bank and KfW, and will be handled by Chile’s state development agency.

Source: TVP World