Lithium : “A cartel is born and his power and promises to be considerable in the coming decades “

“Loss & profit “. It is an immense desert and immaculate. Perched at more than 3000 meters of altitude, the Atacama desert, Chile, offers a few flamingos that inhabit the whiteness blinding his large salt lakes and an air of purity, unique in the world. It is also the scene of one of the great struggles of capital-intensive at the beginning of this century.

It is in this atmosphere clear and inhospitable landscape that is shaping the future of the first industrial sector worldwide, the automobile. The soil of this vast plateau of the andean contains, with its neighbours of the Altiplano of bolivia and argentina, the largest global reserves of lithium, a metal essential to the manufacture of batteries.

Thursday, 25 October, the constitutional court of Chile has authorized the chinese company Tianqi to take 24 % of the capital of its rival, local SQM. The latter, created at the time of Augusto Pinochet and controlled by her ex-son-in-law, tried to oppose this incursion unfriendly. It has only succeeded in depriving the authorities a limitation of the powers of the intruder, so that it does not impact too much on the strategic decisions of the company. But the invader is in place and this situation leads to create an oligopoly as there are few in the world for a raw material is also strategic.

Unbridled Ambition

Now, the top three global producers of lithium, the american Albemarle, chile’s SQM and the chinese Tianqi control two thirds of world production of this ore. Tianqi is at the centre of the game, since partner of the other two. It also owns 51 % of a huge mine in Australia, was with Albemarle. These two deposits of chile and australia alone account for almost half of the world’s supply. A cartel is born and his power and promises to be considerable in the coming decades.

The conversion to the forced march of the industry…

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