Chile: Investment Opportunities in the Lithium Industry

Published on May 14, 2024


Exploration and Exploitation of Lithium in Salt Flats.

In March 2024 the government made some announcements related to the lithium exploitation on salt flats in Chile, all within the Chilean lithium national strategy. Private investors will be able to participate in the exploration and or exploitation of lithium deposits as follows:

  • As minority investors, in those salt flats considered “strategic” by the government (Maricunga and Atacama). The State, through CODELCO (the Copper Agency), and ENAMI (the National Mining Company), will have the majority of ownership (50+1) in such salt flats.
  • As minority or majority investors in 5 salt flats (Pedernales, Grande, Los Infieles, Las Isla and Aguilar), in public-private alliances with the State, through CODELCO and ENAMI.
  • Private investors will lead the exploration and exploitation of 26 salt flats (excluding strategic salt flats and the 5 salt flats mentioned above). Investors will be able to lead these projects entirely and may or may not invest in an alliance with the State.
  • No exploitation will be allowed in the protected salt flats, those that are National Parks, National Reserves and Natural Monuments, among others.

Local or foreign companies or partnerships of companies (consortium, joint-venture, or other forms of association) are invited to participate in the “Request for Information” (“RFI”) process. Bidding bases can be download from the Mining Ministry web page (

Calendar for the RFI process: Question and consultation period -April 15 to May 17, 2024. Consultation reply period: 10 business days from the closing of the consultation period. Deadline for submission of expressions of interest: June 17th, 2024. Publication of RFI procedure results: July 9th, 2024. The process will end with special lithium operation contracts entered into with the State (including indigenous consultation).

Selection Process of Specialized Producers of Lithium Products.

CORFO (Chilean economic development agency) holds mining concessions located in the Atacama salt flat, some of which are currently being exploited by SQM Salar S.A. mainly for the production of lithium, potassium and magnesium, pursuant to certain agreements entered into among CORFO and SQM Salar S.A. (among others). SQM Salar S.A. committed to offer its lithium products at a preferential price to specialized producers of value- added lithium products established in Chile who produce, among others, lithium cathodes, lithium battery components and lithium salt. Preferential price and supply will be offered to the specialized producers until 2030, at the most.

The selection process will be open until December 31, 2024. Chilean and foreign companies interested in participating shall submit an investment project proposal to CORFO, describing the activities and investments that will allow them to have a plant and/or infrastructure for the development of value- added products in Chile using the lithium products produced in Chile by SQM Salar S.A. as input. If selected, foreign companies shall incorporate or acquire a Chilean company and hold more than 50% of the shares or equity interest or create an affiliate or an agency. Information on the process can be found at

For more information related to these topics please contact the author at

Prepared by Sergio Orrego and Verónica Roa from Urenda, Rencoret, Orrego y Dörr.