SANTIAGO/HOUSTON (Reuters) – Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) has launched an aggressive lobbying campaign after Chilean regulators denied its request to boost lithium output, stressing the company’s importance to Chile’s economy and workers, according to records reviewed by Reuters.
The behind-the-scenes moves come even as Albemarle has publicly brushed off worries from analysts and investors about rising regulatory pressure in Chile, home to the world’s largest reserves of lithium, a crucial ingredient in electric car batteries and mobile phones.
Ellen Lenny-Pessagno, who became Albemarle’s Chile country manager in October, met with the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) on Nov. 23 to discuss the rejection, according to filings with Chile’s lobbyist transparency website that have been previously unreported.
The nuclear agency, which oversees lithium sales and export from Chile, had rejected Albemarle’s request in September to increase its quota to sell lithium. That effectively stunted the long-term expansion plans of the world’s top producer of the ultralight metal.
Albemarle Chief Executive Luke Kissam stressed in a November conference call with investors that the rejection from CCHEN was “not a big deal, OK? It’s not a big deal.”