Posted in | News | Lithium | Mining Business

Chilean Lithium Landscape Transformed by Major Mining Partnerships

In a significant shift in the global lithium market, several of the world's leading lithium mining companies, including Tianqi Lithium Corp., LG Energy Solution, and Eramet SA, have engaged in discussions with the Chilean government, exploring partnerships to develop Chile’s abundant lithium resources. These meetings, which are part of a broader initiative, signify a potential reconfiguration of lithium mining operations in one of the world’s largest producers of the crucial battery metal​​​​.

lithium mining

Image Credit: Freedom_wanted/

Chile's New Public-Private Model

Under President Gabriel Boric's innovative vision, the Chilean government introduced a public-private lithium exploitation model. This approach mandates any company interested in mining lithium in Chile to partner with the state, ensuring government control over a substantial portion of the ventures. The model aims to boost lithium extraction using environmentally conscious technologies and incorporating input from local Indigenous communities, setting a new standard in the mining sector​​.

Global Giants Enter Strategic Alliances

Recent months have seen pivotal meetings between these mining companies and Chilean authorities.

China's Tianqi, a significant shareholder in SQM, discussed investment plans in December, following a similar approach by LG Energy.

French mining company Eramet explored an alliance concerning its 120,000-hectare lithium concession in the Atacama region. Notably, Tesla's representatives also engaged in discussions, focusing on electric mobility strategies, revealing the growing interest of diverse industry players in Chile's lithium reserves​.

The Role of Industry Leaders

The industry landscape is further defined by the presence of the two largest lithium producers, Albemarle and SQM.

While SQM recently secured a long-term partnership with Codelco for lithium production in the Atacama salt flats, Albemarle's contract with Chile expires in 2043.

CEO Kent Masters has expressed openness to early renegotiations, indicating the strategic importance of Chile's lithium reserves for global market leaders​.

Impact and Implications

These developments mark a transformative phase in the lithium industry, particularly for Chile, which plays a pivotal role as the world's second-largest lithium producer.

The shift toward public-private partnerships underlines a global trend for more sustainable and socially responsible mining practices. It also highlights the strategic importance of lithium, a critical component in the burgeoning electric vehicle industry and renewable energy storage solutions. As these partnerships materialize, they are poised to reshape the dynamics of the lithium market, influencing supply chains and global pricing.


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