Lithium is a metal with high electrical conductivity, low viscosity, very light and low coefficient of thermal expansion. This gives it a high energy density and, being the lightest metal in the periodic table, allows it to store a greater electrical charge per kilogram. In this way, the accelerated expansion of electric vehiclesi has generated interest and demand much higher than what existed a few years ago for lithium and it is projected that between 2021 and 2030 the global demand for lithium will multiply by 4 times.
Lithium is found in various clays, continental brines, brines associated with oil wells and geothermal fields; and even in sea water.
However, only a few deposits have adequate concentration levels for commercial exploitation under the technological conditions known to date.
Chile, according to international estimates, has the largest reserves on the planet, although Australia, with fewer reserves, today has the leadership in production.
- For several decades, the use of this wealth has been carried out through Special Operation Contracts, whose last modifications were made during the second Bachelet administration. This made it possible to attract substantial investments and a growing flow of resources to the Public Treasury, without the Chilean State having had to allocate fiscal resources, always scarce, to finance part of these investments.
- The eventual exploitation of lithium by a state company, as proposed by the President-elect, will force the State to allocate considerable resources to finance the respective investments, the alternative cost of that money being very relevant, which could be used in other sectors, such as education or health, where the social return is substantially higher.
- The bidding process developed by the current government gathers the experience of previous processes and has managed to attract new participants to invest in this sector, simultaneously committing a very important transfer of resources to the State of Chile for several decades.