The parties agreed to create a research and development hub to add value to the production of this strategic mineral.
In what can be seen as an initiative of strategic importance not only for the Antofagasta Region but for the country as a whole, SQM and Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN) joined forces to advance the design, production, and recycling of lithium batteries, as well as cathodes and lithium battery components.
The project, entitled “Creation of a research and development hub in the lithium battery value chain,” will be implemented from 2022 to 2030, creating economic, social and environmental value for Northern Chile and the country as a whole.
This strategic partnership between the private sector and the academic world involves long-term collaboration and vision to add value to lithium production in Chile, with a focus on building science, technology, research and innovation capacities for the country in the Antofagasta Region.
The project will be implemented by UCN’s Faculty of Engineering and Geological Sciences and takes into account the scientific and technological equipment and the development of advanced human capital the proposal will require in the Research and Development (R+D) line.
As Rodrigo Alda, Rector of Universidad Católica del Norte, explained, the agreement is proof that when all stakeholders work in a coordinated manner—universities, companies, and the public sector—they can achieve extraordinary things in regions outside the capital of Santiago.
“We should not forget that Northern Chile is generous. We have lithium, copper, solar radiation, large tracts of land, but above all, professional women and men determined to fight for a better world, one that is healthier and cleaner and has more opportunities,” commented the academic official.
José Miguel Berguño, SQM Senior VP of Corporate Services, affirmed: “The signing of this collaborative agreement with UCN will enable the creation of the first lithium battery research center. Developing human capital is very important for our company, especially in this region. And so we are very pleased today to show our commitment to collaboration, which is part of our Sustainability Plan, through this agreement with academia, which offers us a tremendous opportunity to learn about and develop technology at the local, regional and national levels, following global trends.”
For his part, UCN’s Vice Rector of Technological Research and Development, Rodrigo Sfeir, stated that the university has focused its efforts on developing priority research areas that are linked to the needs of the Northern Macro Zone, and especially the Antofagasta and Coquimbo regions, where we are most present.
“This partnership between SQM and UCN is therefore crucial for the development of the Antofagasta Region, as it contributes to enhancing one of its strategic resources. This agreement will strengthen regional research and development capacities in the lithium value chain by attracting and creating advanced human capital and installing cutting-edge scientific and technological equipment,” explained Sfeir.
The signing of the respective agreement was held on Tuesday, April 12 on the main campus of the northern university.