October 2, 2012 / 3:55 PM / 7 years ago

Chile deputy Mining minister resigns after lithium debacle

SANTIAGO, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Chile’s deputy mining minister Pablo Wagner resigned on Tuesday, a day after the lithium concession tender he led was revoked in a messy setback.

It was not immediately clear who would replace him, though mining policy in the world’s leading copper producer Chile is not seen changing as a consequence.

The ministry on Monday invalidated a decision allowing local firm and world No.1 lithium producer SQM to develop a new lithium concession after a rival bidder challenged the terms of the deal.

Part of public opinion, unions and the opposition in Chile had decried the tender, accusing the government of surrendering a valuable resource to private hands.

Critics had also blasted the ministry for awarding the concession to SQM, whose chairman is ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet’s former son-in-law and whose chief operating officer is the brother of Mining Minister Hernan de Solminihac.

The minister did not participate in the development of the lithium contracts to avoid a conflict of interest, however.

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