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High interest in lithium marked Minister Grau and InvestChile’s second day in Beijing

17 October, 2023
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  • Chile’s Economy Minister Nicolás Grau and InvestChile Director Karla Flores met with local companies to present opportunities related to the National Lithium Strategy and green hydrogen.  Public Works Minister Jessica López shared Concessions System details, and Transport and Telecommunications Minister Juan Carlos Muñoz discussed electromobility opportunities. 

Local companies’ interest in Chile’s lithium industry and green energy has been one of the high points of the third day of Economy, Development and Tourism Minister Nicolás Grau’s visit to China.

After an intense tour of Japan and South Korea, Minister Grau and InvestChile Director Karla Flores joined ChileWeek China 2023.  This year, the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, is heading Chile’s largest export and investment promotion event in China, organized by ProChile.

Bilateral meetings and industry workshops

InvestChile Director Karla Flores and its Investment Commissioner for Asia, Vicente Pinto, began Tuesday with two bilateral meetings with the energy companies: China Power Engineering Consulting Group and Longi.

Then, Chilean ministers and industry authorities led four industry workshops – two in the morning and two in the afternoon – to promote investment opportunities in lithium, public infrastructure, energy and electromobility.  The workshops featured testimonies from Chinese companies already operating in Chile.

Opportunities in Lithium and Green Hydrogen

In the morning, Minister Grau and InvestChile Director Karla Flores spoke at the Lithium Business Opportunities Workshop to more than 40 representatives from Chinese companies involved in different stages of the lithium value chain.

At the event, moderated by InvestChile’s Mining Investment Promotion Officer Christoff Janse, the Economy Minister presented Chile’s National Lithium Strategy and how it could benefit potential investors.

Minister Grau remarked, “We are making progress on one of the hallmarks of the National Lithium Strategy: producing value-added lithium products in Chile.  Instead of exporting lithium, the strategy aims to export cathode material and cathodes.  We must adopt a more realistic but ambitious view of what our country can achieve with lithium.”

The minister added, “We can absolutely increase production and exploit more salt flats while protecting and conserving a large group.  We can make technological changes and achieve greater added value, thus generating quality employment in Chile.”

The InvestChile Director referred to the advantages that Chile offers Chinese investors.  She also explained the services the agency provides to support them at each stage of their project.

“We understand how essential frank dialogue is to expediting investment.  Coming to Asia with the authorities who design public policy and economic reform demonstrates our commitment to strengthening understanding and relations with Chinese companies,” said Director Karla Flores.

Notably, Chinese company BYD, the world’s second-largest battery manufacturer, has already announced a US$290 million investment to set up a lithium cathode factory in Chile.  A few days ago, Tingaran announced another investment of more than US$250 million in the Mejillones area.

In the afternoon, Minister Grau and InvestChile’s Investment Commissioner for Asia Vicente Pinto led a workshop for more than 40 company representatives on the energy opportunities available in Chile.  The event focused particularly on the details of the green hydrogen industry, which attracts high interest in China.

Chile aspires to produce the best-priced green hydrogen on the planet by 2030, which offers a series of opportunities for production companies and ancillary industries.

Electromobility drew attention in Beijing

In the adjoining conference room, more than 40 representatives from Chinese companies participated in an InvestChile workshop on electromobility opportunities.  The event featured remarks by Chile’s Transportation Minister Juan Carlos Muñoz and presentations by DTPM (Metropolitan Santiago’s Public Transport) Director Paola Tapia, DTPM Finance Manager Diego Cruz and the Chinese company BYD.

InvestChile’s International Network Coordinator, Catalina Pérez, moderated the event.

The authorities announced upcoming public transport tendering processes for bus acquisitions and operations.  These processes, totaling approximately US$4 billion, include issues like fleet management and fare collection systems.

Notably, 31% of the bus fleet for Santiago’s public transportation system is electric.  There are currently 2,000 buses, and that number will continue growing.

Today, China is the world’s leading supplier of electric buses, and 99% of these vehicles operate domestically.

More than US$11 billion in infrastructure opportunities

Public Works Minister Jessica López presented a portfolio of 27 projects for tender before 2025.

Over 35 representatives from some twenty Chinese companies, InvestChile Director Karla Flores, acting General Director of Concessions Juan Eduardo Chackie and InvestChile International Network Coordinator Catalina Pérez attended the InvestChile event.

Minister López held bilateral meetings with companies like China Railway, China Harbour Engineering Co, Cpecc and Euroports.

China currently represents 8% of total committed concession system investments, the equivalent of approximately US$2 billion.

“For us, attracting foreign investors is paramount.  We have a very ambitious investment portfolio of more than US$11 billion for the remainder of President Boric’s administration and another US$15 billion by 2027.  China has tremendous potential for carrying out these works.  That is what we are offering at this event,” said the minister.

On Wednesday, the last day of the tour in Beijing, the delegation will continue its activities with a morning technical visit to China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).

Check out the best images from Tuesday at ChileWeek China 2023:

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