Chile’s lithium miner SQM confirmed on Friday it has started negotiations with Codelco and will refrain from publicly commenting on the content or status of the discussions, Kallanish reports.

The talks on the future lease and operation of Corfo’s properties in the Salar de Atacama beyond 2030 and SQM’s existing lease will be confidential and may span “several months,” SQM says.

Communication from the company can be expected once the final documents are signed, or in case the negotiations are terminated.

As the owner of mining properties in Salar de Atacama, the state agency mandated Codelco’s chairman Máximo Pacheco to act on behalf of the state. Pacheco will seek public-private alliances that give continuity to productive activities in the salt flat beyond 2030, with the state holding a majority stake in future exploitation.

“We will consolidate our position at a global level as producers of two of the critical minerals for the global energy transition,” Pacheco said in a separate statement, referring to copper and lithium.

The new exploitation contracts should maintain the benefits to the state through the rental income received by Corfo and other contributions that SQM has committed to regional and local governments, plus the indigenous communities around the Salar. The future lease will also require preferential prices of lithium products for companies that add value in Chile (downstream investment); strengthen environmental commitments through the implementation of new lithium extraction and processing technologies; maintain R&D activities and scientific cooperation, the government says.

SQM’s ceo said in a press conference that the meetings will start in the upcoming days with the shared objective of pursuing an agreement that “will benefit the country, the Antofagasta region, the communities near the operations, SQM and Codelco.”

He noted SQM has been working towards the development of innovative production processes and cutting-edge technologies aimed at maintaining the water balance in the basin of the Salar de Atacama and achieving a carbon-neutral operation in harmony with the nearby communities. “We appreciate the willingness of Corfo and Codelco in advancing towards these shared objectives,” adds Ramos.

The Chilean government announced in April its strategy to partially nationalise its lithium resources, creating a state-owned lithium company to own majority stakes in joint ventures. Cochilco, the state copper commission, will supervise and evaluate the management and investments of the future company. State subsidiaries Codelco and Enami will oversee exploration and exploitation tender processes and lease negotiation.