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Energy Storage

Lithium earnings dazzle

by Matt Blois
February 26, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 7


US lithium mining companies had a bumper year in 2022. Albemarle’s lithium sales topped $5 billion, a rise of 267% from the previous year, and the company reported a 2,000% increase in profits. Meanwhile, Livent doubled its lithium sales. After barely turning a profit in 2021, the firm reported $274 million in net income for last year. Both companies attributed their profits to the price of lithium chemicals, which nearly doubled in 2022 and have risen over 700% since the beginning of 2021, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. To capitalize on those prices, Albemarle plans to apply later this year for permits to open a mine in North Carolina. It also says it’s investing billions to build lithium processing facilities outside China, where processing capacity is concentrated now. Livent says it hopes to double its annual lithium carbonate capacity in Argentina by year-end. The firm also recently expanded a lithium hydroxide facility in the US and has a 50% stake in a Canadian lithium mine that it hopes will start up in 2025. The future of lithium pricing isn’t clear, though. Global prices have been flat for months, and the research firm Fastmarkets reports that the price of lithium hydroxide in China has dropped 50% since hitting a peak near the end of 2022.


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