Rio Tinto, Eramet and LG Energy have submitted proposals to develop lithium extraction technology for a Chilean salt flat in the early stages of exploration, Reuters reported.

Chile is seeking to develop the salt flat known as Salares Altoandinos for lithium mining.

Chilean state minerals company Enami has called for detailed plans from bidding companies to test the brine deposits within the salt flats.

These plans should include step-by-step processes for extracting lithium to battery-grade quality and outline the environmental impact assessment for brine reinjection.

In a statement, Enami said: “The objective… is to become acquainted with state of art development of technological processes for lithium extraction that are being developed worldwide.”

Both Rio Tinto and Eramet have established their presence in the country with their projects.

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Rio Tinto already has a lithium project under way in Argentina, and intends to start production by the end of the year.

Eramet of France is also developing a lithium project in Argentina, which is anticipated to commence production this year.

Last year, Eramet acquired salt flats in Chile and is now seeking exploration and mining rights.

LG Energy, another contender in the bid, has yet to disclose details of its proposal, according to the news agency.

The push for advanced lithium extraction methods aligns with the policy introduced by Chile’s President Gabriel Boric, who aims to increase the state’s involvement in the lithium industry.

Boric’s administration has also proposed an ambitious plan to phase out the use of traditional evaporation ponds in favour of direct lithium extraction technology, which is still in the experimental stages.