Chile’s Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) says it is currently analysing the country’s recently announced national lithium strategy, but hopes to continue to be part of its lithium history.

In a statement late on Friday, the company said it has been investing in innovation and technology to develop sustainable lithium production in Chile for over 25 years. Its high-standard lithium chemicals has placed Chile “in a leading position in the most demanding markets in the world,” SQM notes.

SQM’s stock price fell 18.57% on Friday following the announcement of Chile’s partial lithium nationalisation plans, despite the government pledging to respect existing contracts, Kallanish notes.

“We hope that this announcement will be able to boost the lithium production expansion in Chile, allowing the country to take advantage of the favourable lithium demand conditions globally,” the company says. “We expect to be part of this dialogue and conversation that now begins.”

Chilean President Gabriel Boric has instructed the country’s economic development agency CORFO to negotiate with current developers SQM and Albemarle so that the state can participate in their existing operations in the Salar de Atacama. A major contract SQM holds with CORFO, which the company calls it a public-private partnership, expires in 2030.

Despite the pledges that existing contracts will be respected, the bid to gain early access to the largest salt flat in the country, and one of the biggest lithium reserves in the world, is increasing uncertainty for SQM and its planned expansion.

Last year, the miner reported net profit of $3.90 billion, compared to $855 million a year earlier. The boost reflects surging lithium prices and higher sales volumes, leading to a 770.9% increase in its lithium revenue. It anticipates a 20% increase in global lithium demand in 2023.

President Boric’s strategy includes creating a national lithium company to lead the country’s lithium industrialisation, focusing on value-added products. Copper state companies Codelco and Enami are in charge of promoting state participation in private developments, until the lithium company is created. Then, the government will work on joint ventures, holding a majority stake in developments of “high relevance.”

CORFO has already opened a tender for value-added projects, seeking investment in downstream. It said China’s BYD plans to build a $290m cathode plant in Antofagasta and is eligible for a preferential lithium carbonate price under a contract it holds with SQM. Such deal would include supply of lithium chemical until 2030, under a quota of 11,244 tonnes/year.