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IAEA Director General Visits Chile to Sign Agreements on Plastic Pollution and Lithium Mining


IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and the Foreign Minister of Chile, Alberto van Klaveren, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to tackle plastic pollution in Antarctica on Tuesday. (Photo: IAEA)

The IAEA and the Government of Chile have signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation to tackle microplastic pollution in Antarctica. The IAEA also signed the first ever agreement on nuclear technology and lithium. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and Chile’s Foreign Minister Alberto van Klaveren signed the Memorandum of Understanding under the IAEA’s flagship NUTEC Plastics initiative on Tuesday.

Mr Grossi also signed an agreement related to lithium mining with Luis Huerta of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) and witnessed by Chile’s Energy Undersecretary Luis Felipe Ramos. This agreement is aimed at harnessing nuclear technology to enhance lithium mining and paves the way for wider regional support from the IAEA. Lithium has applications in fusion and energy sectors.

The agreement was signed by Luis Huerta of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) and witnessed by Chile’s Energy Undersecretary Luis Felipe Ramos. (Photo: IAEA)

Mr Grossi said: “Nuclear science boosts Chile’s development in areas like health, food, security and environment. I look forward to furthering our collaboration.”

Rays of Hope: Cancer Care for All

During the visit to Chile, Mr Grossi also met with Health Minister Ximena Aguilera Sanhueza and discussed expanding cancer care through training and nuclear medicine as part of the IAEA’s flagship Rays of Hope: Cancer Care for All initiative. Rays of Hope aims to close the global gap in cancer care by expanding access to treatments such as radiotherapy where the need is greatest.

NUTEC Plastics in Antarctica

The latest NUTEC Plastics partnership in Chile builds on work already being carried out to address plastic pollution in oceans by the IAEA. Mr Grossi visited Antarctica with the President of Argentina, Javier Milei, in January, to observe an IAEA scientific mission as it set out to assess the impact of microplastics in this remote region.

Established in 2020, NUTEC Plastics is an IAEA flagship initiative to fight plastic pollution with nuclear technologies. Through a network of NUTEC Plastic Monitoring Laboratories, nuclear and isotopic techniques are being used to produce data on marine microplastics distribution by sampling and analysing microplastics in the environment. The IAEA’s NUTEC Plastics initiative also brings together countries and partners to fight plastic pollution by introducing new technologies to improve plastic recycling.

Mr Grossi toured the Centre for Nuclear Studies (CEN) in La Reina during his visit to Chile. (Photo: IAEA)

During the Chile visit, Mr Grossi congratulated the CCHEN, which recently marked its 60th anniversary.

He said: “The IAEA and I are proud to support their impactful work with nuclear that advances Chile's progress and well-being. An example of that is their reactor, crucial in producing essential radioisotopes for healthcare.”

Chile will host the next International Conference on Effective Nuclear and Radiation Regulatory Systems in January 2026, the first in Latin America, a reflection of the region's expanding role in global nuclear safety and regulation.

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