By Antonio De la Jara
SANTIAGO, Dec 27 () - Chile will delay a previously announced arbitration with Albemarle Corp, the world's top lithium producer, in anticipation that the U.S.-based miner will make a new offer to bring it into compliance with a 2016 contract, a source close to the negotiations told .
Under the contract, U.S.-based Albemarle had agreed to provide as much as 25 percent of its annual production at a discount to companies seeking to produce battery metals within Chile.
The source with knowledge of the negotiations told attorneys for Albemarle and Corfo had continued conversations recently and that Corfo anticipated Albemarle would soon make a more favorable offer.
Albemarle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Albemarle had previously said it regretted the disagreement, but decried what it considered the "substantial difference" between the contractual agreement and what Corfo is now demanding.
The contract clause that requires Albemarle to provide the ultralight battery metal at a reduced price is intended to help spur a value-added lithium industry.
In March, Corfo awarded contracts to Chile's Molymet, China'sSichuan Fulin Industrial Group and a joint venture between Samsung SDI Co Ltd and South Korea'sPOSCO to produce battery components in Chile using discounted lithium from the Atacama, for a total investment of $754 million.
All of the projects are awaiting resolution of the contract dispute with Albemarle, Corfo has said.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.