Following strong protests on social networks and yesterday’s nationwide mobilisation in opposition to the privatisation of lithium, the incumbent President Sebastián Piñera issued a public statement saying that “Chile is the country with the largest lithium reserves in the world. We were the world’s leading lithium producer. We are no longer,” he lamented at the same time.

Defending the much-criticised lithium tender, which is to be carried out during the last stage of his mandate and which has generated significant questioning, especially from the social and political world, he said that the offer for both local and international companies to explore the resource does not exclude the eventual creation of a National Lithium Company in the future. “That can be done,” he said.

He stressed that “Chile is the country with the largest lithium reserves in the world, we have about 40% of the world’s reserves. Today this mineral is essential for the coming society, for combating climate change, for electromobility. For everything we are going to need, lithium is going to be a fundamental element”.

In this regard, he clarified that “as a government, after seeing that lithium production in Chile had stagnated (…) we decided to launch a strategic plan for the use of lithium and we have initiated an international bidding process for 4% of the lithium reserves in our country”.

It is precisely this bidding process that is being widely questioned. Asked by journalists, Piñera briefly referred to the meeting between the team of the president-elect, Gabriel Boric, and the bi-minister Juan Carlos Jobet, where “we explained this whole situation to them”.

“We are looking for an understanding and an agreement, because lithium belongs to all of us, it has to improve the quality of life for everyone,” he concluded.