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Chilean fertilizer producer claims legal dispute might not be resolved until next year

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According to Reuters, Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (SQM) – a Chilean producer of lithium and fertilizer – has announced that its continuing legal dispute with Chilean authorities might not be resolved until the end of next year.

Reuters reports that discussions between SQM and Corfo – a Chilean government development agency – to resolve the problem ended at an impasse in October this year. This left SQM’s lease in the Salar de Atacama (which has some of the most productive lithium deposits in the world) in question.

Patricio de Solminihac, Chief Executive, reportedly spoke to analysts on a conference call after the company’s 3Q17 results, saying that the company was still open for negotiations.

Corfo argues that the Chilean producer failed to meet contractual obligations in its lease agreement with the government. SQM, meanwhile, argues that it has indeed fully complied, disputing Corfo’s claim.

Reuters claims that the dispute has weighed on the Chilean producer’s shares.

Nonetheless, Reuters also claims that Canada’s Potash Corp. has reportedly received interest from potential buyers of its stake (32%) in SQM. This comes as demand increases for lithium, which is essential for batteries used in electric vehicles. Ahead of its merger with Agrium, Potash must sell its stake for regulatory reasons.

Reuters claims that Rio Tinto, Canada’s Wealth Minerals and Chinese private equity firm GSR Capital were considering bidding for an SQM stake.

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