Russian state-owned Rosatom offered the Chilean government technology that it claims could boost lithium extraction rates, Reuters reported Dec. 27, citing lobbyist transparency filings.
"If the Russian technology meets with your requirements and expectations ... Uranium One Group would be willing to introduce it ... for projects operated by Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, Albemarle Corp. ... and other concessionaires, with the goal of increasing their production quotas," said lobbyists for the Uranium One Group, a Rosatom unit.
SQM and Albemarle, which operate in Chile's lithium-rich Atacama desert, were both recently permitted to increase their lithium production quotas without using more brine.
In November, lobbyists for Uranium One pitched their plan to officials at Chile development agency Corfo and the Andean nation's Ministry of Mining for an extraction process that will boost lithium recovery from brine, improve its quality and net more money in royalties for Chilean coffers.
According to lobbyist records, Rosatom stated that its technology will utilize residual brines, and eliminate the large, water-intensive solar evaporation pools use to produce lithium.
Other options were also offered by Rosatom to Chilean officials, including establishing a plant to convert lithium chloride to battery-grade lithium hydroxide.
According to Reuters, any proposal from Rosatom will face close scrutiny from Chilean regulators. Albemarle previously faced similar pressure from regulators on its unique technology that the company claimed will triple its lithium output in Chile.