Lithium miner SQM expects to start contract talks in Chile in coming weeks
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SQM, the world’s No. 2 lithium producer, expects to begin negotiations with Chilean State copper behemoth Codelco in the coming weeks on new terms for a mining contract.
Both sides will be seeking an agreement that’s positive for the country, the region and the two companies, SQM CEO Ricardo Ramos told analysts Thursday on an earnings call. He said it was premature and inappropriate to comment on time frames and the scope of negotiations.
“We think we can create value for both companies,” he said. “If we have an agreement, it has to be a good agreement for us.”
Chile is engaged in a delicate dance of seeking a bigger role for the state while attempting to attract more private capital, defend the environment and move further down the value chain. There’s a lot at stake given the country has the biggest reserves of a metal that’s critical to the clean-energy transition.
The Chilean government unveiled a new public-private partnership model for future lithium contracts. SQM, whose contract expires in 2030, said last month that its technology and experience would enable it to reach mutually beneficial agreements. Under the new model, SQM would relinquish control of its operations to the state in exchange for the right to continue operating beyond 2030.