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Chile weighing Asian, local lithium concession bids
SANTIAGO, Sept 14 |
SANTIAGO, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Six companies are in the running to pocket a lithium mining concession in Chile, which produces about 40 percent of global supply of the metal, which is used in hybrid vehicles and computer and smartphone batteries, the Mining Ministry said on Friday.
Posco Consortium, made up of Posco Ltd, Mitsui & Co , Daewoo International Corp and miner Li Energy Spa; and Chilean miners NX UNO de Peine and SQM are competing for a concession.
Development of lithium has been tempered by a constitutional ban on concessions. Special contracts for lithium production, however, are legally permitted.
The concession could boost global lithium supply by around 15 percent, Deputy Mining Minister Pablo Wagner said during a press conference to present the bids. The ministry will select the candidate with the highest bid above around $5.3 million.
Demand for lithium batteries has risen in recent years as they are more efficient and help cut carbon emissions. The rising popularity of smartphones, which need longer-running batteries, has also helped.
The chief operating officer of Chilean fertilizer, lithium and iodine producer SQM is the brother of Mining Minister Hernan de Solminihac; he is not participating in the development of the lithium contracts to avoid a conflict of interest.
Some in Chile have decried the tender, accusing the government of surrendering a valuable resource to private hands.
Chile, which is also the world's top copper producer, will announce the winner of the tender on Sept. 24.
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