“Our goal is for Chile to become the leading global producer of lithium, resulting in increased wealth and development for our country,” stated Gabriel Boric, the President of Chile.
The President of Chile, Gabriel Boric Font, addressed the nation on live television from La Moneda Palace and unveiled the National Lithium Strategy. This document outlines the government’s proposed actions to harness the potential of lithium for the benefit of Chile. The country currently holds 45% of global reserves, making it the second-largest producer worldwide after Australia.
President Boric emphasized that despite current lithium extraction only taking place in the Salar de Atacama, Chile already accounts for over 30% of the global market. The country’s potential for lithium is enormous, with more than 60 other salt flats and saline lakes yet to be explored and evaluated. Boric highlighted the importance of protecting certain areas and lakes from operations in his speech.
Lithium plays a vital role in combating the climate crisis, as it is used in energy storage batteries, electric cars, and buses. President Boric sees it as an unparalleled opportunity for economic growth and a key step toward a more sustainable and developed economy. The potential must not be squandered, he stressed.
Here are the key points of Chile’s National Lithium Strategy:
- Engage in dialogue and collaboration with various stakeholders, including local communities, indigenous peoples, regional government, academia, productive companies, civil society, and central government.
- Establish the National Lithium Company, a state-owned entity responsible for the complete industrial cycle of lithium, including exploration, extraction, treatment, and value-addition projects.
- Create a Protected Salt Flats Network to safeguard salt flats with low environmental impact and utilize technologies that align with sustainability goals.
- Modernize the institutional framework to support the industry’s development while ensuring the preservation of salt flats and providing stability for existing and new organizations.
- Establish a Public Technological and Research Institute of Lithium and Salt Flats to generate knowledge and technologies for extraction, production, value addition, applications, and recycling. The institute will also enhance understanding of salt flats and minimize the environmental impact.
- Involve the State in the productive activity of the Salar de Atacama to regain control of Chile’s lithium. The State-Owned Copper Company (CODELCO) will represent the state and lead conversations with existing and future companies operating in the salt flat.
- Explore potential lithium extraction in other salt flats responsibly and sustainably, excluding those already designated as protected. Strategic projects in these areas will involve public-private partnerships, with the State retaining decision-making control.
- Create the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) Productive Transformation Committee on Lithium, led by the Energy Ministry. This committee will drive productive transformation, propose policies for scientific-technological and industrial development, and identify opportunities to add value to the industry at the local level.
The official document of the National Lithium Strategy can be downloaded here (in Spanish).
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