Chile and France signed two memoranda of understanding to promote research projects for the “sustainable” exploitation of copper and lithium, in which French companies and research centers meet with Chilean public actors.
“We have finalized two agreements between French companies and the French government, with Cochilco and Enami, which are going to provide the resources. In the case of Enami, we are going to work with green hydrogen as a source of energy for small miners in Chile, and in the case of Cochilco, we are going to do a study regarding the value chains that are possible to implement. Is. Our country in lithium material”, confirmed Mines Minister Marcela Hernando.
“It has been a tremendously fruitful exchange, many French companies are interested and, as they announced at our meeting, they want to come to our region to organize and add value to Chilean minerals and metals,” he said. Are.”
A meeting was organized by Hernando with Olivier Becht, Minister of Foreign Trade, Attractiveness and French Foreign Representative, with whom he established the first dialogue on minerals and strategic metals.
The French Authority, for its part, is visiting the region with a delegation made up of research operators (CEA and BRGM) and French companies (Aramet, Geolith, Blue Solutions, Stellantis, Nexan, Viridian Lithium).
“We have not only come here looking for business opportunities for lithium and thus, making batteries and energy transition in Europe. We want to do this first, in Chile and France along value chains within the framework of a common prosperity that will produce added value here in Chile and for the Chilean people”, said the French minister.
They said they would also seek “research-based innovation for a development that will protect the environment with social responsibility in mining extraction” and “even more respect local communities, such as indigenous peoples.”
According to data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the “lithium triangle” brings together about 50 million metric tons of this mineral, and the largest reserves (the exploitable fraction of lithium) are found in Chile (9.2 million metric tons). .
The three countries that make up the region have exploited the resource with varying yields: Argentina has expanded its portfolio of projects, Bolivia seeks to attract foreign investment with state control, and Chile has placed in the hands of large private companies (Chile). SQM and American Albertmarle), so far.
According to the Autonomous Fiscal Council (CFA), in 2022, Chile is expected to receive more than US$5 billion for the exploitation of this mineral, equivalent to 1.6% of GDP.
The country is the second world producer of lithium after Australia, but Argentina could gain the position and overtake it in the coming years.
According to the Central Bank in the same year, sales of lithium carbonate abroad amounted to US$7,763 million, an increase of 777% compared to 2021. With this performance, lithium carbonate has overtaken salmon, iron and cherry in Chile’s export basket.