Yellen Advocates Expanding U.S.-Chilean Ties to Boost Lithium Production for Clean Energy


  • Andrea Shalal toured Albemarle, a U.S. lithium producer located in northern Chile and participated in strategic meetings with Chilean officials and business tycoons.
  • She emphasized the potential of $3 trillion in global investment that could arise from the growing demand for renewable energy, during her visit to the Albemarle site in La Negra.
  • Transfers economic alliances between Chile and the U.S. could enhance energy security, aid meeting climate objectives, and help lessen dependency on China for essential minerals.
  • Increasing lithium purchases could heighten U.S. imports from Chile, with China currently being Chile’s main export market.

Expanding Opportunities with Chile

Albemarle, a U.S. lithium producer headquartered in northern Chile, welcomed a prominent visitor over the weekend. This visit coincided with high-level strategic discussions involving Chile’s President, Gabriel Boric, and the Economy Minister, Mario Marcel, among other prominent persons in Santiago.

The potential for clean energy to stimulate approximately $3 trillion in worldwide investment opportunities by 2050 was highlighted during this visit. The location for this strategic discussion was none other than the Albemarle site in La Negra, just 30 minutes southeast of Antofagasta.

Strengthening U.S.-Chilean Relations

Boosting ties between the U.S. and Chile could lead to multiple benefits, such as amplified energy security and progress towards crucial environmental objectives. Importantly, this collaboration can help to achieve the central goal of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act: curbing over-reliance on strategic goods like essential minerals procured from China.

As a result, the U.S. is eager to amplify home-grown production while exploring alternative sources for critical minerals such as lithium, crucial for powering electric vehicles.

Trade Alliance with Chile

“Our aim is to acquire minerals, particularly from free trade partners like Chile, that demonstrate considerable environmental sensitivity and possess a powerful climate agenda,” it was reported. Moreover, increased lithium purchases could potentially boost U.S. imports from Chile, significantly raising the share of Chilean exports. Currently, China stands as Chile’s largest export market.

Increasing U.S. Imports from Chile

While specifics were not disclosed, the visitor was optimistic about the prospects of substantially increasing purchases from Chile. The trip to Chile ties in with the broader initiative, termed “friendshoring,” aimed at diversifying U.S. supply chains by strengthening relationships with key allies and partners such as Chile.

Significant Lithium Producer

Washington has a notable interest in Chile as the leading global producer of copper and the second-largest producer of lithium. Both minerals are crucial components for the green transition. Friday discussions emphasized the U.S. desire to expand trade flows with Chile, without discouraging its trade relations with China, its primary trading partner.

A Mutual Benefit to Both Parties

Albemarle’s investment in Chile exemplifies the advantages of enhanced collaboration. The North Carolina-based company has two sites in Chile employing 1,000 people. These include a production site in Salar de Atacama and a conversion plant in La Negra.

In the medium to long term, the U.S. will ramp up lithium production domestically, with planned mines in North Carolina and Nevada. Chile is developing a national lithium strategy to ensure balanced production and prevent any country from monopolizing the market. Although the specifics of the regulatory framework are still being developed, companies like Albemarle see a promising future in Chile.


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