Chile lithium watch: SQM, Lithium Power

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, December 22, 2022
Chile lithium watch: SQM, Lithium Power

SQM labor dispute

More than a thousand members of supervisors union No. 1 at Chilean lithium producer SQM announced a strike for next week after a collective bargaining process failed.

The workers are demanding bonuses, wage increases, equal pay between men and women, career projection and a 40-hour working week, among other things.

SQM announced on Tuesday the start of a mediation process with the union that groups professionals from its subsidiaries SQM SA, SQM Salar, SQM Nitratos and SQM Industrial.

The conflict originated at the beginning of November, after the union presented its demands.

The supervisors claim their salaries are 30% lower than similar workers in other companies such as Albemarle, and are demanding a hike of between 10% and 25%, Omar Durán, the union’s treasurer, told a local newspaper.

In January and September, SQM posted a year-on-year profit increase of almost 90% to US$2.76bn, and expects the positive results to continue due to the boom in lithium demand caused by the electric vehicle market, it said in its Q3 report.

Lithium Power

Australia's Lithium Power International  close to consolidating its ownership of the Maricunga lithium brine project in northern Chile’s Atacama region.

Through two agreements reached with its joint venture partners, local firm Minera Salar Blanco and Canada’s Bearing Lithium, Lithium Power would be left with 100% of the project.

The transaction with Minera Salar Blanco involved the acquisition of 31.31% of Maricunga, leaving the Australian company with 82.86% of the property, it said a statement on Tuesday.

The remaining 17.14% will be obtained from Bearing, the agreement for which has already been approved by its shareholders and a Canadian court. It should be completed on Thursday.

The project is expected to produce 15,200t/y of battery-grade lithium carbonate over 20 years.

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