Albemarle’s Lithium Mine Reopening Delayed Due to Price Drop

Albemarle’s plan to reopen a lithium mine in North Carolina is taking longer than expected because the prices of lithium have dropped, making it tough for the company.

Albemarle, a big lithium maker, wanted to reopen the Kings Mountain mine around late 2026 to make more lithium in the U.S. and help make batteries for electric cars.

Eric Norris, who leads the energy storage at Albemarle, said, “It’s going to take longer than we thought, but we’re still moving forward. We haven’t stopped.”

Kings Mountain mine could supply material for 1.2 million electric vehicles yearly.

The Kings Mountain mine has a lot of a mineral called spodumene, which has lithium. It could provide enough to make 1.2 million electric cars every year. Right now, there’s only one other lithium mine in the U.S., in Nevada, also owned by Albemarle.

Norris said they don’t have a fixed date for when the Kings Mountain mine will start again. They need two years just for permits and then several more years to build it.

The Biden administration wants to make batteries in the U.S. with American lithium to rely less on China. Albemarle got $90 million from the Defense Department to help reopen Kings Mountain.

Albemarle gets a $90 million grant to support domestic mining for Lithium.

The mine was active from 1937 to the 1980s but stopped because the owners, Rockwood Holdings, focused on mines in Chile. Albemarle bought Rockwood and the mine in 2015.

Albemarle is facing pressure because lithium prices worldwide have dropped by more than 40% since last year and 81% from their peak in 2022. This made them change their plans. They stopped a chemical plant in South Carolina that would use lithium from Kings Mountain.

Kent Masters, Albemarle’s CEO, said the electric car industry still needs a lot of lithium, even though prices have fallen. But with prices so low, it’s hard to invest in new projects.

CEO Kent Masters of Albemarle expects steadier lithium prices as the market matures, despite recent drops.

Masters said the price of lithium needs to be at least $20 per kilogram for it to make sense to invest. But in 2023, the average price was only $15 per kilogram. Masters thinks prices will become steadier as the market grows.

In the first quarter of this year, Albemarle’s profit fell by 99% to $2.4 million compared to a year ago. Revenue went down by 47% to $1.36 billion from $2.58 billion in 2023.

Even though Albemarle didn’t earn as much as last year, it did about as well as Wall Street expected. Investors liked the results, and Albemarle’s shares went up more than 5% to $125.30 on Thursday, then 3% more on Friday.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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