Albemarle wants to start lithium negotiations in Chile soon -minister

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SANTIAGO, May 30 (Reuters) -Albemarle ALB.N expressed interest in starting negotiations soon with Chile on the government's campaign to gain majority control of lithium mining projects Mining Minister Marcela Hernando said on Tuesday.

The U.S. company wants to begin talks "as soon as possible," Mining Minister Marcela Hernando said on Tuesday.

Chile's government launched a plan in April to gain a majority stake in new lithium projects considered strategic, as well as in the current operations in the Atacama.

"They (Albemarle) have only verbally stated that their interest is to start negotiations as soon as possible," Hernando told reporters after a presentation of a report on lithium price and production projections.

The ministry told Reuters in a statement later the government will respect the contract currently in force until 2043, and state-run miner Codelco will be leading the talks.

Albemarle did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the minister's statements.

Albemarle said earlier this month that it's open to renegotiating its lithium contract in Chile before 2043, but planned to do so towards the end of its contract and would seek access to more deposits in the South American country.

Codelco, which has been appointed by the government to negotiate state control in the industry, recently started talks with SQM about its contract, which expires in 2030.

The start of negotiations will depend on Albemarle and Codelco, Hernando said, adding the government is interested in starting negotiations soon.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Cynthia Osterman


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