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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 a few to 4 million metric tons in lower than a decade, based on McKinsey & Company.
Albemarle, the world’s high producer of this crucial metallic 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 be constructing a $1.3 billion processing facility in South Carolina, the place it’s going to course of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The plant will help the manufacturing of 2.4 million electrical autos yearly and be capable to course of lithium from recycled batteries.
Despite that progress, Albemarle faces a quantity of potential headwinds together with a potential financial downturn that might gradual the demand for EVs, new battery chemistries that might cut back the want for lithium, battery recycling and extra rivals. Tesla started development of a lithium refinery in Texas in 2023.
To higher perceive how lithium, generally known as “White Gold,” is extracted, the challenges concerned and the place manufacturing is shifting to subsequent, CNBC obtained a behind-the-scenes take a look at Albemarle’s operations in Chile and the U.S.