BYD considers battery materials factory in Chile

BYD is planning to build a battery material factory in Chile. That is according to the Chilean economic development agency CORFO. The South American country wants to put the lithium industry under state control – but BYD, among others, could be given preferential treatment.

Reuters writes that the Chilean government appointed BYD Chile as a qualified lithium producer, giving the company access to preferential prices for lithium carbonate quotas. BYD is investing an estimated $290 million in the project in the Antofagasta region, which could produce 50,000 tonnes of LFP cathode material per year. Commissioning is planned for the end of 2025.

According to CORFO, the plant will employ 500 people. “We hope to give a strong boost to promote the generation of products in the lithium value chain,” says CORFO Executive Vice President Jose Miguel Benavente.

Some of the cathode material produced in Chile is expected to remain in the country: BYD is one of the suppliers of electric buses for Chile’s public transport system. The manufacturer’s electric buses also use LFP batteries.

Meanwhile, Chile’s President Gabriel Boric announced plans to nationalise the country’s lithium industry to boost the country’s economy and protect the environment. “This is the best chance we have at transitioning to a sustainable and developed economy. We can’t afford to waste it,” Boric said in an address televised nationwide. To that end, lithium operations would transfer from SQM and Albemarle to a separate state-owned company.

Future lithium contracts would only be awarded as public-private partnerships with government control, the president explains. While the government would not terminate current agreements, it hopes companies are open to state participation before expiration. SQM’s contract expires in 2030, Albemarle’s in 2043. SQM and Albemarle supply Tesla, LG Energy Solution and SK On, among others. SQM did not respond to a Reuters query, while Albemarle expects the announcement to have “no material impact on our business.” The company says talks on further investment and growth in Chile would continue.

In February, Mexico’s government signed a decree to nationalise lithium mining in the country., (both BYD), (nationalisation)


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