A little-known nuclear agency, designated as Chile’s lithium watchdog 38 years ago during the military dictatorship, holds the keys to unlocking the country’s massive reserves amid a nascent electric-car boom.
The Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission, or CCHEN by its Spanish initials, authorizes lithium quotas and exports in a throwback to a 1979 decision to declare lithium “strategic” because it was thought to be a key element in nuclear processes.
While that’s no longer the case, the government has no plans to remove CCHEN from lithium permitting even as authorities work on a new code for an industry struggling to keep up with growing demand from rechargeable batteries. More investor-friendly rules in Argentina have lured some interest away from Chile. Continue Reading →