Albemarle Sells Minerals Business, Expands Lithium Holdings

Albemarle Corp of Baton Rouge, LA has announced the completion of the previously announced sale of its Minerals business, which includes both mineral flame retardants and specialty chemicals, to Huber Engineered Materials. The transaction included Albemarle’’s Martinswerk GmbH subsidiary and manufacturing facility located in Bergheim, Germany and Albemarle’s 50% ownership interest in Magnifin Magnesiaprodukte GmbH, a joint venture with RHI AG at Breitenau, Austria. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Albemarle has also announced that it has been granted approval by the Environmental Assessment Commission of Antofagasta Region to increase its authorized lithium brine extraction rate at the company’’s facility in the Salar de Atacama, Chile. The increase will enable the company to meet the accelerating demand for lithium, especially high purity lithium compounds required for the production of lithium batteries. In addition, Albemarle announced that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Chilean government for an increased lithium quota consistent with the principles and goals of the country’’s Lithium National Commission.

The MOU provides Albemarle with sufficient lithium to support the production, over a 27-year period, of 70,000 tonnes annually of technical and battery grade lithium carbonate and 6,000 tonnes annually of lithium chloride at the company’’s two manufacturing facilities in La Negra, Antofagasta, as well as a third lithium carbonate facility that Albemarle will commit to construct under the MOU.

Luke Kissam, Albemarle’’s CEO, said, ““We are excited to extend and expand our activities in Chile, the region with the best lithium resources in the world. This agreement will not only establish Chile as the global leader in the production of value-added lithium-based products, it provides economics that justify Albemarle’s continued investment in the region. As a result, we will be better positioned to capture 50% of the growth in lithium applications and solidify our leadership position in the industry.””

Cypress Development Corp of Vancouver, BC has entered into an Option Agreement to acquire 100% interest in the 1280 acre Clayton Valley lithium brine project in Esmeralda County, NV. The project is located on the south flank of Angel Island and immediately south-east of Albemarle’’s Silver Peak lithium brine mine. Cypress notes that its Glory and Angel claims are within 0.5 miles south of lithium brine wells belonging to the Albemarle Silver Peak mine and are located in an active area of surface hectorite clay mining.

Esmeralda Minerals LLC of Reno, NV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pure Energy Minerals Ltd of Vancouver, BC, has announced that the U.S. Department of Energy has released the remaining funding for its collaboration with SRI International to develop novel cost-effective methods for lithium extraction from geothermal brines. Nitto Innovations Inc, a U.S. subsidiary of Nitto Denko of Japan, has also joined the project.

Nemaska Lithium Inc of Quebec City, QC has confirmed the signing of the final contract for its CDN$12.87 million non-repayable grant for the construction and operation of its phase 1 lithium hydromet plant. Concurrently, with the signing of the agreement, the company received the first installment of CDN$2.1 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

Nemaska says that detailed engineering has started and that the construction of the phase 1 plant, designed to produce 500 tonnes/year of high purity lithium hydroxide, is expected to start during the current quarter and be completed in the fourth quarter. The company intends to use the facility to produce commercial lithium hydroxide samples to send to end-users in the lithium battery market with a goal of securing off-take agreements in advance of start of operation at the company’’s Wabouchi lithium mine and commercial hydromet facility.

Guy Bourassa, Nemaska’’s CEO, said, ““The demand for lithium hydroxide is growing at double digit rates annually and end users are keen to secure supply. Our unique method of producing lithium hydroxide uses electrolysis technology whose main input is electricity which, in Quebec, is green renewable hydroelectricity. This makes our lithium hydroxide process one of the greenest and lowest cost in the world. This is a value proposition which is unmatched in the industry and perfectly aligns us with the values of battery manufacturers, electric-vehicle and energy storage consumers globally.””

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