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Daniel Layton

Daniel Layton, Chairman and CEO of Ensorcia Group: “Chile is a sleeping lithium giant that needs to wake up”

  • The executive of the American company participated in a panel on energy transition, where he spoke about lithium in Chile and the opportunity that the country is wasting. Through Sorcia Minerals, a subsidiary of Ensorcia Group, the businessman wants to enter the country with a technology that promotes the sustainable extraction of the mineral.
  •  It also announced the opening of Sorcia Minerals Europe, a new subsidiary of the Ensorcia Group that will have an investment of USD 200 million to build a lithium hydroxide conversion plant, which would begin operating in 2026.

Switzerland, Davos, January 2023.- Throughout this week the World Economic Forum 2023 took place in Davos, Switzerland. These five days, the main leaders of the world economy, both from the public and private sectors, met in this space to discuss policies and contingent issues linked to the economy, finance and environment.

Although this year there was no delegation from the Government of Chile, some representatives of companies with a presence on national soil were present. One of these was Ensorcia Metals Corporation which, through its subsidiary Sorcia Minerals, explores the sustainable extraction of lithium in the north of the country. Daniel Layton, Chairman and CEO of Ensorcia Group, was part of a panel at the Leaders on Purpose event, an organization that seeks the development of a sustainable economy, all under the auspices of the World Economic Forum.

Layton participated in the event as an expert in energy transition and spoke, among other things, about the lithium industry in Chile and the urgency it has to transform into a sustainable sector.

“The lithium industry must become sustainable as soon as possible. There is an important paradox, since this mineral is extracted to make batteries for electromobility and leave aside combustion-powered means of transportation, but the production of lithium is causing significant damage to the salt flats. Current extraction methods, with evaporation pools, are harmful to biodiversity, the water balance and the communities surrounding the salt flats. It is urgent to start exploiting lithium in a sustainable way and today the technologies for that already exist,” explained Layton in Davos.

At that same point, he gave Chile as an example. “This country has exceptional natural reserves of lithium and they are exploiting them with evaporation pools. This cannot continue to happen in 2023, when we have much more advanced technologies that are designed not to harm the environment. We have been trying to enter the Chilean industry for years to change this paradigm, but we have not yet achieved it because it is an extremely complex sector, closed to only two actors. “They are losing the opportunity of the lithium boom,” the executive added.

Layton took advantage of the event to announce the opening of Sorcia Europe, its subsidiary in the old continent, which comes hand in hand with an investment of USD 200 million. This, to build a lithium hydroxide conversion plant, which would begin operating in 2026. The location of this, initially, would be France.

Ensorcia Group in Chile: sustainable and more effective technology

Ensorcia Group is the only company in the world with a license to operate on an industrial level the Direct Extraction Technology developed by the North American company IBAT, which allows extracting up to 89% of the lithium from the salt flats and, subsequently, returning over 90% of the brine to it, without affecting biodiversity or the water balance in the ecosystem.

The company is present in Europe and South America. One of those countries is Chile, where they have been carrying out studies and working for years to be able to implement their technology. The big problem is that the Chilean lithium industry is closed to only two actors, who have been operating for decades in the Salar de Atacama, with evaporation pools.

Rodrigo Dupouy, president for Latin America of Ensorcia Group, explains that “the problem is that the Chilean industry is not allowing the entry of new players and, with that, they are slowing down the injection of competition and innovation into the industry. Thus the country will never have sustainable lithium extraction and the salt flats and their communities will continue to be harmed.”

To that, he adds that “Chile is losing a great opportunity. If the country took advantage of its lithium potential, it could be producing much more than the approximate 200,000 tons it exports today. It could easily triple that figure. Here it is the State that loses, because with a more open industry, only through taxes and royalties, it could be receiving between 1% and 2% of GDP annually. It is incomprehensible that this continues like this.”

At the moment the Government has not made a statement regarding the path it will take in the lithium industry, where its intention would be to create a National Lithium Company. All while the price of this mineral continues at historical levels, reaching USD 89,212 per ton in November 2022, according to Trading Economics indices.

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