As Chile prepares to open lithium assets, this Canadian miner is ready to pounce

13th December 2023

By: Bloomberg


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Wealth Minerals is lining up funding for lithium drilling and testing in Chile as the Vancouver-based firm waits for the government there to disclose rules for new production areas.

Financing probably will take the form of a convertible bond in the coming weeks with the participation of German chemicals giant BASF, said CEO Henk van Alphen. Wealth recently signed an agreement with BASF for offtake.

A more than 80% plunge in lithium prices this year isn’t putting off investors, Van Alphen said in an interview. Prices for the metal have slumped as supply expands and the electric-vehicle supply chain runs down inventory. “I don’t think people are overly worried about it — and if you look at EV sales, they are actually doing quite well,” he said.

Wealth has already applied for operating permits and is about to unveil a direct extraction provider for what is envisaged as a $500-million to $600-million mine in the Ollague salt flat near the Bolivian border, producing 20 000 t/y. It also has holdings in the Atacama flat, the world’s richest brine deposit.

But like dozens of would-be producers, the firm is waiting for Chile to decide which areas will be made available and whether it will have to give up a majority stake to Codelco or work with Enami as a minority partner. The two state-owned companies will represent the state under a new public-private model, details of which are still being defined.

“We’re relying on the government to show us what the future looks like,” Van Alphen said. “But they are definitely keenly interested in getting something over the finish line here.”

Edited by Bloomberg


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