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InvestChile and CORFO officially launch 2017 call to promote high value-added lithium investments

13 April, 2017

The aim is to reach important international players able to implement projects of this type in Chile.

Chile offers a real opportunity to invest in the value-added lithium industry, pointed out the government’s Economic Development Agency (CORFO) and InvestChile during the official launch yesterday of a call to manufacture value-added lithium products in the country. This morning, the two institutions explained details of the initiative to senior executives of overseas companies and representatives of embassies and bi-national chambers of commerce.

“Since the launch of this call, the response of overseas companies has been extremely important. Our mission now is to ensure that this opportunity offered by Chile reaches the right ears so that we can effectively make contact with companies able to implement projects that are important in terms of technology, job creation and the diversification of our exports,” said Carlos Álvarez, director of InvestChile.

The call, which opened on March 30, forms part of the agreements contained in the contract between CORFO and Rockwood Lithium Limitada, a subsidiary of US-based Albemarle, for the exploitation of lithium in the Atacama Salt Flat. The call’s key attraction is that companies will have access to a guaranteed long-term supply of lithium at an advantageous price.

“By the end of the year, we should have decided the companies that are going to come to Chile to produce value-added lithium products, doing so in a green manner in that they will have to use clean energy,” said CORFO’s executive vice-president, Eduardo Bitran. “This will be an important step in Chile’s reindustrialization; we know there is interest and have received signs from leading international companies,” he added.

Stephen Elgueta, country manager in Chile for Albemarle/Rockwood Lithium, said that, “Chile is taking important steps to develop a production ecosystem around lithium. At Albemarle, as strategic partners of the state, we have a clear commitment to providing the best product for the different industries interested in starting operations in the country. For that reason, we enthusiastically support all efforts to position Chile as a leader in innovation and value added in the international lithium industry.”

Global player

The aim of the invitation issued jointly by CORFO and InvestChile is to transform Chile into an important global player in lithium production and marketing and the creation of value added and production chains around lithium, taking advantage of the fact that the country has some of the world’s most important lithium reserves as well as a business climate that stands out regionally and a network of trade agreements that provide privileged access to 64% of the world’s markets.

Fernando Hentzschel, director of technological development at CORFO, indicated that demand for lithium currently reaches 188,000 tonnes but, by 2035, will reach over 610,000 tonnes of which 290,000 tonnes would be used for batteries. Hentzschel added that, in Chile and around the world, the lithium value chain is geared to consumer electronics, electric vehicles and the thermal storage of solar energy, all fields that could be successfully developed in Chile, with competitive costs as regards energy, the availability of resources and human capital.

The invitation

In this first stage, overseas and local companies interested in participating should send a “Letter of Expression of Interest” to CORFO by 31 May 2017. In it, they should explain the value-added lithium products they would produce. This letter should be accompanied by documents that demonstrate the experience and technical capability to implement their proposal (as regards investment and production). Further information about this invitation can be found on the websites of InvestChile and CORFO.

Photographs: Kick-off of Lithium Invitation