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Albemarle Emerges as the World’s Leading Lithium Producer

The rise of Albemarle, the world's largest lithium producer

The rise of Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer

Demand for lithium, a critical component for electric vehicle batteries, is expected to surge in the coming years. McKinsey & Company estimates that the demand for lithium carbonate will grow to three to four million metric tons by 2030, which is a significant increase from the current demand of 500,000 metric tons in 2021.

Albemarle, the world’s leading producer of lithium, plans to bring another lithium mine online by 2027 in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Albemarle currently operates the Silver Peak mine in Nevada and also has mines in Australia and Chile. The company is also building a $1.3 billion processing facility in South Carolina that will process battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The plant will be able to process lithium from recycled batteries and is expected to support the production of 2.4 million electric vehicles annually.

Despite this growth, Albemarle faces potential headwinds, including a possible economic downturn that could slow the demand for electric cars, new battery chemistries that could reduce the need for lithium, battery recycling, and additional competitors. Tesla, for example, has begun construction of a lithium refinery in Texas.

To learn more about the production of “White Gold” and the challenges involved, CNBC received a behind-the-scenes look at Albemarle’s operations in Chile and the U.S. Watch the video to learn more.

FAQs

What is lithium used for?
Lithium is a critical component for electric vehicle batteries, as well as other electronics like laptops and smartphones.

What is the current demand for lithium?
The current demand for lithium carbonate in 2021 is 500,000 metric tons.

What is the expected demand for lithium in the future?
According to McKinsey & Company, the demand for lithium carbonate is expected to grow to three to four million metric tons by 2030.

Who is the world’s leading producer of lithium?
Albemarle is the world’s leading producer of lithium, with mines in Australia, Chile, and the U.S.

What potential challenges does Albemarle face?
Albemarle faces potential headwinds such as a possible economic downturn that could slow demand for electric cars, new battery chemistries that could reduce the need for lithium, battery recycling, and additional competitors.

The rise of Albemarle, the world's largest lithium producer
The rise of Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer

Albemarle Emerges as the Leading Global Lithium Producer

According to McKinsey & Company, demand for lithium, a vital component for electric vehicle batteries, is anticipated to increase from 500,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate in 2021 to three to four million metric tons in under a decade. Albemarle, the world’s leading producer of this crucial metal and the operator of mines in Australia, Chile, and the U.S., has announced plans to bring another domestic lithium mine online, Kings Mountain in North Carolina, by 2027. It already operates Silver Peak in Nevada. Albemarle is also constructing a $1.3 billion processing facility in South Carolina to process battery-grade lithium hydroxide, which will support the manufacturing of 2.4 million electric vehicles annually and process lithium from recycled batteries.

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However, Albemarle faces several potential headwinds, including a possible economic downturn that could slow demand for EVs, new battery chemistries that could lower the need for lithium, battery recycling, and increased competitors. Tesla began construction of a lithium refinery in Texas in 2023. To gain a better understanding of how lithium, also known as “White Gold,” is extracted, the challenges involved, and where production is heading next, CNBC gained a behind-the-scenes look at Albemarle’s operations in Chile and the U.S. To learn more, watch the video.

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