January 7, 2019 / 5:43 PM / 5 months ago

Chile okays lithium producer SQM's plan to remedy water violations

SANTIAGO, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Chile’s environmental regulator on Monday approved a $25 million compliance plan by top lithium producer SQM, ending a multi-year investigation by Chilean authorities that found SQM had overdrawn lithium-rich brine from the Atacama salt flat, straining water supplies in the world’s driest desert.

The 18-month remediation plan includes a new online system to monitor the Chilean miner’s extraction rates of both brine and fresh water from the salt flat.

Atacama, home to top lithium producers SQM and Albemarle, supplies more than one-third of the world’s supply of the ultralight battery metal, but increasing water use by lithium and copper miners has raised concerns about sustainability in the delicate salt flat. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by David Gregorio)

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