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Chile’s state-run Codelco to control new lithium partnership with SQM

SANTIAGO, Dec 27 (Reuters) – Chilean lithium miner SQM SQMA.SN said on Wednesday it would partner with Codelco for the development and production of the rechargeable battery metal in the Atacama salt flat between 2025 and 2060, in a deal giving the state-run miner majority control.

Chile’s leftist government in April announced plans to strengthen state control of lithium, aiming to generate more broad-based benefits from surging demand and only allowing public-private partnerships to participate in its exploitation.

The new company will be responsible for the production of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide – the two main processed lithium products used to make rechargeable batteries – on the properties that SQM currently leases from Chile’s state development office, SQM said.

SQM said it would provide the fixed assets, knowledge and employees from its lithium business, while Codelco would contribute the lease and an additional production and sales quota.

“This is a significant milestone in public-private partnerships in Chile,” SQM CEO Ricardo Ramos said in a statement.

As part of the deal, Codelco will provide the sales authorization for an additional 165,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) to be used by 2031.

Codelco will also authorize an additional 135,000 tons of LCE for the new public-private entity during its initial phase, but conditioned on increased production, according to the SQM statement.

Source: Nasdaq