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lithium mine

Two invest in lithium hydroxide

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.

Albemarle's agreement with Mineral Resources (MRL) was originally signed in December 2018 and amended in August, creating a joint venture called MARBL Albemarle has acquired 60% interest in MRL's Wodgina mine (pictured) for $820 million in cash and a 40% stake in two new 25,000 tonnes/year lithium hydroxide conversion trains it is building at nearby Kemerton, that are scheduled to come into operation from 1H 2021.

MARBL will manage the operation of the mine and the conversion trains, while Albemarle will market the output of both. Albemarle and MRL will fund any further expansions on a 60-40 basis. Production at Wodgina will be idled until market demand supports bringing it back into production.

Livent's new investment at Bessemer City, North Carolina, was marked with a ground-breaking ceremony on 30 October. The facility will give it 5,000 tonnes/year of lithium hydroxide capacity for the electric vehicle market and others. This is expected to create 30 permanent jobs and contribute $16-18 million to the local economy during construction phase and start-up in late 2020.

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