By Mohsin Abbas / The Santiago Times Staff
SANTIAGO – Chile has called for bidders to manufacture lithium-linked products in the country as the South American nation plans to expand its mining and industry sectors.
The country is part of South America’s “lithium triangle,” a region straddling Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile that provides more than half the world’s lithium, via companies such as Albemarle, Philadelphia-based FMC Corp., and Chile’s SQM.
Now companies that bid will access a secure supply of lithium at a favorable price, part of a deal government development agency Corfo made with top supplier Albemarle Corp.
Lithium plays a small but essential part in powering electric car batteries, and Chile wants to start the process of turning lithium carbonate into cathodes and batteries inside the country.
“This (invitation) seeks to make the country a relevant player in the world production, commercialization, added-value generation and lithium productive chain,” Corfo said in a statement on Thursday.
Companies have until the end of May to indicate their interest, and Corfo said it should have a final plan by the end of the year.
The vast salt flats of Atacama desert are the world’s most productive lithium deposit – called as ‘Chile’s buried treasure’.
At 12,000 feet above sea level, the Atacama Plateau contains the highest-grade lithium brine deposits in the world.