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Chile's Codelco meets with BMW and ABB in Europe visit

Maximo Pacheco, Chile's then-Energy Minister, speaks at the Chilean congress in Valparaiso

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The world's top copper producer, Chile-based Codelco, met with German carmaker BMW and Swiss engineering group ABB during a visit with Chilean officials to Europe, Codelco Chairman Maximo Pacheco said on Tuesday.

State-run Codelco is seeking a partner for a major new lithium project in the Maricunga salt flat, part of the Chilean government's push to boost its role in production of the battery metal.

Asked if BMW and ABB showed interest in the Maricunga project, Pacheco said the meetings had broader objectives to discuss the European economy and Chile-Europe relations.

Both companies are aware of the need for more copper and lithium amid the global shift to green energy, he noted.

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"(BMW) is confronting the challenge of electric vehicles, of how to build a certain competitiveness in this market, and they know they need lithium," Pacheco told reporters at an event in Santiago. He also noted that electric cars require much more copper than gasoline-powered cars.

As far as ABB, he said, "They're living through the challenges of a world that is going to be more and more electric, and the challenge of where the copper will come from."

Pacheco said Codelco also plans to discuss copper and lithium with the Saudi Arabia mining minister in Chile next month.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Fabian Cambero; Editing by David Gregorio)