“High technological uncertainty in the exploitation of lithium salt flats in Chile”

“High technological uncertainty in the exploitation of lithium salt flats in Chile”
“High technological uncertainty in the exploitation of lithium salt flats in Chile”

A report prepared by the Center for Mining Studies and Documentation (CEMS) of the National Mining Society (Sonami) warns of the high technological uncertainty in the process of exploiting salt flats in Chile. The study highlights three aspects that must be defined in the lithium sector: the criteria for the use of Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technologies, the reinjection of brines and the regulatory problems related to the concessionability of the mineral. The report highlights the lack of clear definitions on these points and points out that uncertainty increases as the end of the information process approaches.

Details of the results of the RFI process

Details of the results of the Request For Information (RFI) process will be announced on Tuesday, in which 88 proposals were received from 54 companies from 10 different countries, but without providing information on the delivery mechanisms for the Special Lithium Operation Contracts (CEOL). The Minister of Finance, Mario Marcel, the Minister of Mining, Aurora Williams, and the Executive Vice President of Corfo, José Miguel Benavente, will announce the areas of interest and the next steps of the strategy at a press conference.

Technological and operational challenges

The report highlights that the lack of clear definitions on lithium extraction technologies creates uncertainty in the sector. It also highlights the challenge of reinjecting brines and the possible presence of contaminants in the process. It also warns about the uncertainty of allowing more than one company to exploit lithium from the same salt flat, and the need to clarify the regulatory aspects related to the concessionability of the mineral.

The importance of clear and robust regulation

Sonami recommends aligning the capabilities of the private sector with the expectations of the State and establishing a clear and robust framework of regulation and appropriate technology to achieve a more efficient and sustainable lithium exploitation system. The report suggests studying cases of joint operating agreements in the oil and gas industry in Texas as a possible solution for lithium exploitation in Chile.

 
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