SANTIAGO, April 30 (Reuters) - Chile’s mining minister Baldo Prokurica said royalties for the ultralight battery metal lithium would be set on a “case-by-case” basis from now on, using a negotiation model similar to that used with top producers in Chile’s Atacama salt flat.
State development agency Corfo struck deals with top miners SQM and Albemarle in previous years that set a sliding scale for royalties, depending on the price of the metal.
Prokurica, speaking late Monday, did not specify what rates would be used as a starting point for any new negotiations.
“This will be studied on a case by case basis, considering Corfo’s experience with its holdings in the Salar de Atacama,” Prokurica told Reuters.
Chile is the world’s No. 2 producer of the metal, which is used in the batteries that power cell phones, electric vehicles and other consumer goods. Nearly one-third of the world’s supply of lithium comes from Atacama, a sprawling salt flat in the country’s northern desert.
Several companies, including Wealth Minerals, Lithium Power International, and Bearing Lithium , among others, are advancing projects in Chile to take advantage of surging demand.
Chile’s government had been studying various options for royalty payments, from a system that would put lithium royalties on par with those of copper, as well as additional taxes to spur development in the regions where the metal is mined. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero, writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by James Dalgleish)