The agreement would presumably be to supply Tesla’s Gigafactory under-construction in Nevada. Codelco is the no.1 producer of copper in the world by volume and even though it currently doesn’t operate any lithium mine, it has been evaluating the possibility to exploit the resource which is abundant in Chile. The company operates salt mines in Maricunga and Pedernales, which hold lithium reserves.
So far, Tesla already signed two lithium supply agreements for its battery factory, but both are for projects still under-development, meaning that the agreements are dependent on the completion of the mining projects.
A deal with Codelco would mean a third agreement for a project still under-development, which clearly shows that Tesla is trying to encourage new lithium projects in order to increase global supply rather than sourcing from established producers.
A senior Tesla official recently confirmed that the Gigafactory will be nearly 40% larger than expected, but the company has yet to update the planned production output of 35 GWh of battery cells (50 GWh of battery packs), which is the same since the unveiling of the project.