LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) – More than 10 companies have expressed interest in partnering with Codelco, one of the world’s largest copper producers, to exploit its lithium assets in Chile, the firm’s chairman told Reuters.
The chairman, Oscar Landerretche, was speaking during LME Week, a gathering of the metal industry in London. Lithium is a key component in rechargeable batteries that fuel electric vehicles, a segment of the auto industry expected to grow exponentially in coming years.
Companies with lithium assets are attracting huge investor interest, as can be seen in an exchange-traded fund comprised of lithium firms, up nearly 60 percent so far this year. Lithium in Chile is found in brine deposits, which can take seven years or more to develop.
“Interest is in the lower double digits. Codelco is looking for partners for the process of valuing those lithium assets for their potential,” Landerretche said, declining to give any names or say how large the deposit might be.
“But I would be cautious about overinterpretation because Codelco’s lithium possessions are two salt lakes in the Atacama region and in very early stages of exploration and development.”