China's BYD Co Ltd , the world's largest electric vehicle (EV) maker, plans to build a $290 million lithium cathode factory in Chile's northern Antofagasta region, said Chilean economic development agency CORFO.

The South American country's government has named BYD Chile a qualified lithium producer, CORFO said, giving it access to preferential prices for lithium carbonate quotas.

BYD, which supplies electric buses for Chile's public transportation system, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

The plant will produce 50,000 tonnes per year of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) for cathodes, using lithium carbonate as an input. It is scheduled to start operating in 2025 and generate 500 jobs, CORFO said in a statement late on Wednesday in Chile.

"We hope to give a strong boost to promote the generation of products in the lithium value chain," said CORFO Executive Vice President Jose Miguel Benavente.

On Thursday, President Gabriel Boric pledged to nationalise the lithium industry in Chile, the world's second-largest producer of the metal essential in EV batteries, to boost its economy and protect its environment. (Reporting by Farah Master in Hong Kong and Zhang Yan in Shanghai; Editing by Christopher Cushing)