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Successful call for bids by InvestChile and CORFO: Overseas companies express interest in developing lithium products in Chile

A dozen companies from China, South Korea, the United States, Canada, Belgium and Russia as well as two Chilean companies have expressed interest in participating in the tender designed to create a value-added lithium products industry in Chile.

The companies that opt to invest will obtain preferential prices for lithium produced in the Atacama Salt Flat by US-based Albemarle and, according to the government’s Economic Development Agency (CORFO) and InvestChile, the institutions responsible for the tender, lithium could become Chile’s second largest export by 2035.

The director of InvestChile, Carlos Álvarez, highlighted the importance of the 12 companies’ interest in creating value-added lithium products in Chile. This shows that “our country has an asset of great interest to foreign investors and consolidates an international image of security based on solid institutions and an open economy,” he said.

Chile continues to be an attractive destination for foreign investment, he added, emphasizing that the country must take advantage of the high demand for lithium products and derivatives related principally to the emerging boom in electro mobility and to Chile’s use of non-conventional renewal sources to produce electricity.

“Using its enormous solar potential, Chile will produce copper that is low in emissions and high-quality lithium, giving our country more income, more jobs, more development, more research, more benefits for communities and the world’s highest non-metallic mining royalties, thanks to the agreement signed by CORFO and Albemarle,” said Álvarez.

Eduardo Bitrán, executive vice-president of CORFO, forecast that the investments in the value-added lithium industry could be for between US$30 million and US$300 million, depending on the type of product that the companies want to make in Chile.



Twelve producer companies or companies that use lithium to make products with high value added responded to the tender process which began in April and the roadshow which took place in Frankfurt in mid-May, activities organized jointly by InvestChile and CORFO.

The offers received during the just over three months of the tender include lithium salts, metallic lithium, lithium cathodes, ingots and battery foil and materials for cathodes for a future generation of batteries.


The 12 companies which presented offers were:

TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom, Russia

Sichuan Fulin Industrial Group Co. Ltd., China

Shenzheng Matel Tech. Co. Ltd. and Jiangmen Kanhoo Industry Co. Ltd., China

Molymet, Chile

Gansu Daxiang Energy Technology Co. Ltd., China

Imelsa S.A., Chile

UMICORE, Belgium

Bravo Motor Company, United States

SAMSUNG SDI Co. Ltd., South Korea

SinoVenture Chile, China

Invermer S.A. in representation of Fundación DERC (Desert Energy Research Centre) and Corporación IDEOJ, Chile

Rubystock Financial Capital Corp. and Fallingbrook Commodities Ltd., Canada.


The opportunity to industrialize Chilean lithium arose as a result of an agreement signed recently by CORFO and Albemarle (ex-Rockwood). The new contract with the non-metallic mining company establishes that “25% of the lithium extracted must be processed in Chile through the manufacture of products that permit the export of products with greater value added and the development of an industry related to this mineral.”

The great international interest in this tender reflects the development and strategic focus that lithium currently has in Chile, which have been followed and monitored by different markets and specialized economic publications such as the Financial Times, The Economist, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.


Next steps

The next stage of the process involves rigorous analysis of the projects presented by the bidders, all of whom submitted a Letter of Expression of Interest, details of the value-added lithium products they would develop and documentation guaranteeing the experience and technical capability to implement their project (as regards investment and production).

The next step will be to create an evaluation commission led by CORFO, which will have 30 days to select a group of companies.

Once the commission announces the names of the companies selected, they will have a further 90 days to refine their projects and present a final report on the investment they will implement in Chile.