Albemarle has officially inaugurated La Negra III/IV, its third chemical conversion plant, 27 km from the city of Antofagasta in Chile. The firm claims that this is the most modern plant of its kind in Latin America and that it will help to double lithium production and reduce freshwater consumption by up to 30% per tonne of production.
Albemarle has signed a joint development agreement with 6K, a specialist in microwave-controlled plasma technology, to explore the use of 6K’s UniMelt materials production platform to develop novel lithium battery materials. It has also made an undisclosed investment in 6K through Volta Energy Technologies, a venture capital firm active in the energy storage sector that is already an investor.
Shortly after acquiring a lithium converter in Guangxi province, Albemarle has signed investment agreements that will enable it go build two lithium hydroxide plants in China. Each will have 50,000 tonnes/year of capacity and construction is to be completed by the end of 2024.
They are located at the Yangtze River International Chemical Industrial Park within the Zhangjiagang Free Trade Zone in Jiangsu province and the Pengshan Economic Development Park in the Pengshan district in Sichuan province.
The two largest players in lithium chemistry have both made significant investments in the past month, with Albemarle closing a deal that gives it a stake in a spodumene mine in Western Australia and Livent has begun construction of more lithium hydroxide production in the US.