Albemarle says it regrets Chile's call for arbitration over lithium royalties

SANTIAGO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Albemarle Corp, the world’s largest lithium producer, said on Monday it regretted Chile’s decision to initiate international arbitration over the alleged underpayment by the U.S. company of royalties on its sales.

State development agency Corfo filed before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) on Friday, claiming that around $15 million of $60 million in royalties were outstanding for 2020.

Albemarle said CORFO could have used existing mechanisms in the contract to resolve the dispute.

“We regret that CORFO has insisted on this arbitration process, which will imply time and costs for the country, even though there is a clause in the same contract for the solution of these issues,” the firm said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“We reaffirm that we have fulfilled all our contractual obligations with the State of Chile, including the payment of the corresponding commissions.”

Albemarle said it would continue operations in Chile, where it operates in the coveted Salar de Atacama, pending the outcome of the litigation.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero in Santiago, Writing by Aislinn Laing Editing by Matthew Lewis