July 10, 2017 / 8:56 PM / 2 years ago

Chile receives 12 bids for value-added lithium projects

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the brine pools and processing areas of the SQM lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat, in the Atacama desert of northern Chile January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File photo

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Twelve companies from seven countries have applied to manufacture lithium-linked products in Chile, officials told journalists on Monday, in what they called a victory for the mining country’s push to add value to its exports.

Chile is part of South America’s “lithium triangle,” home to more than half the known global reserves of the mineral, which plays an essential part in powering electric car batteries. But only abroad is lithium developed into products consumers can use, a fact Chile’s government wants to change.

In March, Chilean state development agency CORFO invited bids from companies to manufacture value-added projects from the country’s lithium. The winner will secure a steady supply of the metal at a favorable price, part of a deal CORFO made with U.S.-based supplier Albemarle Corp.

Among the proposals are projects to create “next-generation” batteries, lithium salts, lithium metal, and several other materials, CORFO Executive Vice President Eduardo Bitran told journalists.

“We’ve had great success because here we’re uniting the global electro-mobility industry with the largest lithium reserves in the world,” he said.

Bitran added that the selection process should be completed around January and that more than one winner could be selected. Projects resulting from the auction, CORFO said, should come online in 2019.

The companies that have applied to the program, officials said, are China’s Sichuan Fulin Industrial Group Co, SinoVenture Chile, Gansu Daxiang Energy Technology Co, and a joint venture of Shenzheng Metal Tech Co and Jiangmen Kanhoo Industry Co; Chile’s Molymet, Imelsa, and a joint venture of Invermer and Corporacion IDEOJ; Russia’s TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom; South Korea’s Samsung SDI Co; U.S. firm Bravo Motor Co; Belgium’s Umicore; and a joint venture of Canada’s Rubystock Financial Capital Corp and Fallingbrook Commodities.

Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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