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In Chile’s Lithium Sector, the End of Pinera’s Privatization Era Nears

MIN READJan 18, 2022 | 16:20 GMT

Demonstrators in Santiago take part in a protest against Chilean President Sebastian Pinera’s efforts to privatize the country’s lithium industry on Jan. 7, 2022.

Demonstrators in Santiago take part in a protest against Chilean President Sebastian Pinera’s efforts to privatize the country’s lithium industry on Jan. 7, 2022.

(JAVIER TORRES/AFP via Getty Images)

Chile’s incoming left-wing government and constitutional convention will attempt to limit private-sector investment in lithium production while bolstering a new state-owned mining company, which could drive up the cost of the element and make the global energy transition more costly. Almost a week after new lithium concessions were announced, a Chilean appeals court suspended the bidding process at the request of local Indigenous communities. Two companies -- China’s electric car maker BYD Co. Ltd. and Chile’s Servicios y Operaciones Mineras del Norte -- were previously awarded contracts to produce a combined 80,000 metric tons of lithium over the course of 20 years, accounting for 1.8% of Chile’s known lithium. The auction was a last-ditch effort by outgoing center-right President Sebastian Pinera to reverse Chile’s steadily declining share of global lithium production before his leftist successor, President-elect Gabriel Boric, takes office on March 11. ...

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