Lithium Giants Albemarle And SQM Battle Over Entry To Atacama Water Research

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SANTIAGO: U.S.-based Albemarle Corp, the world’s largest lithium producer, has accused its prime rival, Chilean miner SQM, and native regulators of searching for to maintain secret a coveted report concerning the environmental impression of lithium mining in Chile’s Salar de Atacama, in keeping with a submitting made by its legal professionals.

Chilean regulator Corfo, which oversees lithium mining within the Atacama, in August denied a request from Albemarle to evaluate the long-awaited report, in keeping with filings obtained by Reuters beneath Chile’s Transparency Act. Within the filings, Corfo informed Albemarle it was unable to offer the report as a result of it was nonetheless beneath evaluate and contained confidential enterprise data.

The report, which stays beneath wraps, goals to stamp out uncertainty over the sustainability of mining exercise that has lengthy solid a pall over the delicate salt flat, residence to one-quarter of the world’s present output of lithium, but in addition indigenous communities, protected areas, and endangered flamingos.

Each SQM and Albemarle, the one two lithium miners on the flat, contributed to the report. However whereas SQM’s contract with Corfo permits it to evaluate working drafts of research commissioned by the company and associated to water within the Salar, Albemarle’s contract doesn’t embody this clause.

SQM objected to the examine’s launch, the filings present, arguing the info it contained was “delicate and confidential.”

Albemarle blasted Corfo’s determination in an August enchantment introduced to Chile’s Council for Transparency and seen by Reuters, calling the examine long-overdue, and its contents public. The council resolves disputes associated to the nation’s open data legal guidelines.

“Their solely purpose is to cover data that’s, by no means, secret,” Albemarle’s lawyer mentioned within the submitting, including that the examine in query was “extremely related” to understanding the environmental results of mining on the flat.

It mentioned the one motive the contents is perhaps delicate was in the event that they “revealed non-compliance or actions that go towards rules” and mentioned SQM’s unique proper to evaluate the examine was unfair and put its prime competitor in a “place of privilege.”

Corfo declined to touch upon the dispute.

SQM didn’t remark instantly on Albemarle’s accusations when contacted by Reuters. The Chilean miner mentioned in a press release that Corfo had “independently contracted top-level specialists” for the water examine. SQM added it had adhered to the phrases of its contract with Corfo and offered the company with all the data regulators had requested.

The examine and the true state of the Salar’s water provide has lengthy been an obsession of lithium business watchers due to the realm’s big significance in satisfying hovering world demand for the white metallic. Lithium is significant to the batteries that energy cellphones and electrical automobiles.

Lawmakers, lecturers, environmentalists, native communities, German carmaker Volkswagen and most lately, a Chilean environmental tribunal, have all emphasised the significance of the examine in serving to dispel lingering questions on the impression of lithium mining in Chile.

Corfo mentioned within the filings the revised examine will likely be accomplished by February 2021. The company didn’t say if, or when, the doc is perhaps made public.

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