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Chilean regulators scrap lithium miner SQM’s environmental plan

SANTIAGO Chilean regulators have rejected lithium producer SQM’s $25 million environmental compliance plan for the Atacama salt flat, requesting the miner to start again from scratch, a filing showed.

Chile’s Environmental Superintendent (SMA) approved SQM’s compliance plan early in 2019 after a multi-year investigation found SQM had overdrawn lithium-rich brine from the salt flat.

But the regulator said in a filing dated Thursday that it would begin the process anew to comply with a decision of a regional environmental court in December which invalidated SQM´s plan, calling it “insufficient”.

Both SQM and the regulator have since appealed that decision to Chile´s Supreme Court, but the lower tribunal said environmental regulators must comply with its order even as the Supreme Court ponders a potential reversal.

SQM did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The process does not immediately effect SQM´s ability to operate on the flat but is likely to prove yet another headache for the miner, which is seeking to expand its operations at Atacama.

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Source: News18