Chile pushes lithium development, puts state reserves up for tender – by Rosalba O’Brien (Reuters U.S. – January 25, 2016)

SANTIAGO – Jan 25 Chile is pushing forward with new policies to develop its vast lithium reserves, the government said on Monday, at a time when prices for the battery ingredient have been rising rapidly.

One of the government’s first moves in the mostly private sector industry would be a call to tender the exploration of two salt flats owned by state-run Codelco, the world’s biggest copper producer.

Lithium is an important ingredient in rechargeable batteries and is used in electric cars. Annual demand for lithium was forecast to more than double by 2020 from 95,000 tonnes now.

Most lithium is produced in Australia and Chile, with the bulk of the world’s reserves straddling huge salt flats in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.

Companies including U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc have been reported visiting Chile as the race to secure supplies of the chemical heats up.

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