Demand for lithium, a key element for electrical car batteries, is predicted to surge, from 500,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate in 2021 to 3 to 4 million metric tons in lower than a decade, in response to McKinsey & Firm.
Albemarle, the world’s prime producer of this important steel and the operator of mines in Australia, Chile and the U.S., says it plans to carry one other home lithium mine on-line by 2027 — Kings Mountain in North Carolina. It already operates Silver Peak in Nevada.
Albemarle can also be constructing a $1.3 billion processing facility in South Carolina, the place it is going to course of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The plant will help the manufacturing of two.4 million electrical autos yearly and have the ability to course of lithium from recycled batteries.
Regardless of that development, Albemarle faces quite a lot of potential headwinds together with a potential financial downturn that would sluggish the demand for EVs, new battery chemistries that would scale back the necessity for lithium, battery recycling and extra rivals. Tesla started development of a lithium refinery in Texas in 2023.
To raised perceive how lithium, often called “White Gold,” is extracted, the challenges concerned and the place manufacturing is shifting to subsequent, CNBC received a behind-the-scenes take a look at Albemarle’s operations in Chile and the U.S.