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ECONOMY | 28-04-2023 11:14

Peru sees lithium mining opportunity in Chile’s statist plan

Peru seeking a more active role in trying to lure lithium mining investments in light of Chile’s decision to take state control of all new projects of battery metal.

Peru is taking a more active role in trying to lure lithium mining investments in light of Chile’s decision to take state control of all new projects of the battery metal, an official said. 

“There are countries that are making decisions that are scaring away investors who are looking for countries with enormous potential, and we want to take advantage of that window that has opened,” Finance Minister Alex Contreras told reporters on Thursday. 

Contreras said the government is working to move forward American Lithium’s Falchani hard rock lithium project, located near the border with Bolivia, worth an estimated US$587 million. 

The world’s largest deposits of lithium are located in Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, but Peru wants to tap the EV metal boom as well. Chile is already one of the world’s top producers, although it unveiled a new policy this month that will allow the state to eventually take control of all lithium mining projects in the country. Peru, meanwhile, has maintained a market-friendly approach to mining and has no state-owned mining companies. Peru is also the world’s number two copper producer. 

But developing the Falchani project under this administration will run into the additional risk that the government is greatly disliked in the area. Earlier this year, Peru went through its biggest protests in decades demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte. Those protests battered the economy and lasted the longest in the Puno area, where Falchani is located. 

The unrest continues until today, almost five months after Boluarte took office. Puno’s largest airport was closed for almost four months and only reopened this week due to the continuing unrest, after being the site of a deadly protest that led to over a dozen civilian deaths. 

by Marcelo Rochabrun, Bloomberg

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