Chilean commisson Investigates Codelco-SQM Lithium Agreement Amid Share Trading Concerns

Chilean commisson Investigates Codelco-SQM Lithium Agreement Amid Share Trading Concerns

The Financial Market Commission (CMF) in Chile has requested Codelco to furnish a comprehensive list of individuals involved in the negotiation with SQM regarding the extension of their lithium extraction contract in the Salar de Atacama until 2060. This inquiry aims to investigate potential trading of shares in the non-metallic mining company during the eight-month negotiation process.

Máximo Pacheco, Chairman of Codelco’s Board of Directors, disclosed the secretive nature of the negotiations to the Mining Commission of the Lower House. A select group from each company participated in the talks, along with bankers from Morgan Stanley, technicians from the engineering firm Hacht, and lawyers from Carey. The CMF seeks to identify those with access to privileged information during this process.

Pacheco described the negotiation as highly complex, given the understanding each party had of their respective assets and limitations. He emphasized SQM’s possession of the world’s largest brine-based lithium plant.

Pacheco lauded the expedient agreement between the companies. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) stipulates the formation of a new company for lithium extraction, with shareholders being SQM Salar (SQM) and Tarar (Codelco), where Codelco holds a majority stake.

Pacheco outlined the steps for 2024, including indigenous consultation, due diligence, shareholder agreements, and environmental impact studies for the anticipated production increase at the Salar de Atacama. The new company will face an 85% tax on its income.

The negotiation’s complexity was underscored by concerns over the “productive valley” – the potential reduction in extraction by SQM in the contract’s later years and its fiscal impact. Mining Minister Aurora Williams highlighted this as a key issue.

Amid community unease, Pacheco stressed the importance of dialogues with the Atacameño peoples, citing multiple meetings and a recent letter expressing their willingness for discussion. The Council of Atacameño Peoples temporarily suspended their mobilization following talks with the Minister of Mining. icon

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