China-based globally largest electric vehicle (EV) maker, BYD Co Ltd, has reportedly planned to establish a $290 million-worth lithium cathode factory in the northern Antofagasta region of Chile, cited CORFO, the well-known Chilean economic development agency.

Apparently, the country's government termed BYD Chile as a qualified lithium producer while rendering it access to preferential charges for lithium carbonate quotas.

Upon quizzed on Friday, BYD, which mainly supplies electric buses for the public transportation system in Chile, did not immediately respond to the requests.

The new plant will produce 50,000 tons of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) per year for cathodes by deploying lithium carbonate as an input.

The CORFO further revealed that the plant is scheduled to begin operating by the end of 2025 and generate 500 jobs.

According to Jose Miguel Benavente, Executive Vice President of CORFO, the company is hoping to offer a strong boost for promoting the generation of products within the lithium value chain.

Sources reveal that Chile President Gabriel Boric has vowed to nationalize the lithium industry in the country, which ranks as the world's second-largest manufacturer of the metal essential in EV batteries for boosting its economy and protecting its environment.

Reportedly, the shock move across the country with the largest lithium reserves in the world would in time, transfer control of vast lithium operations in Chile from industry leaders, such as SQM and Albemarle to a separate state-owned company.

Sources disclose that this initiative may pose a fresh challenge to the EV manufacturers that are scrambling for securing battery materials considering that more and more countries are looking to protect their natural resources.

It has also been reported that Mexico nationalized its lithium deposits in 2022 while Indonesia banned the exports of nickel ore in 2020.


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