China’s Tsingshan is planning to invest $233.2m (1.71bn yuan) to set up a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) production plant in Chile.
Planned to be built in Chile’s Antofagasta region, the proposed plant will have the capacity to produce 120,000 tonnes of LFP.
Claimed to be a lower-cost competitor to nickel cobalt manganese cells, LFP is used to power electric vehicles.
The facility is scheduled to be commissioned in May 2025 and is expected to create 668 jobs when it reaches full capacity.
Tsingshan’s new energy unit, Yongqing Technology, will source feedstock from Chile’s lithium producer SQM, at preferential prices through 2030, for the proposed facility.
The plant will also receive lithium carbonate from Tsingshan’s joint lithium project with Eramet in Argentina.
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Chilean President Gabriel Boric said: “We are not going to limit ourselves only to the extraction of non-metallic minerals, but we are also going to create value chains and also transfer knowledge because one of the commitments that the company has made is to generate exchange programmes for that Chilean professionals can travel to China and also train in the development of this industry.”
Tsingshan said it could consider further investments in Chile.
Tsingshan chairman Xiang Guangda was quoted by Reuters, according to a WeChat post: “Chile is the world’s largest country of lithium resources reserves and export. If the government gives great support, (we) can consider building a lithium battery industry park.”
Last year, Reuters reported Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying that Tsingshan agreed to start lithium mining and processing operations in the southern African country.