SQM’s First Quarter Net Income Soars on Significantly Higher Lithium Prices

Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA (SQM) of Santiago, Chile has reported a first quarter net income of US$796.1 million on revenues of US$2.02 billion up from US$68.0 million on revenues of US$528.5 million in the corresponding period of 2021.

Ricardo Ramos, SQM’s CEO, stated, “Our first quarter results reflect several positive circumstances, first, the impact of higher prices in all our business lines, where significant increases in lithium prices stand out and second, the successful long-term, operational and commercial strategy.”

“SQM’s lithium business is a very good example of a successful public-private partnership. No other operation delivers more resources proportionally to Chilean coffers, approximately 60% of the operating margin from lithium is dedicated to payments to Corfo and taxes.

SQM’s Lithium and derivatives segment first quarter 2022 revenues were US$1.45 billion versus US$135.2 million in the first quarter of 2021. Volume sales increased increased from 23,900 tonnes to 38,100 tonnes. The company attributes the increase to the volume increase and significantly higher prices. Prices reached approximately US$38,000/tonne.

SQM’s Specialty Plant Nutrition (SPN) segment generated first quarter 2022 revenues of US$275.3 million, an increase of 42% from the first quarter of 2021. Segment sales volumes decreased 25% to 210,400 tonnes. Average prices for SPN’s products were 39% higher during the first quarter of 2022 compared with the fourth quarter of 2021. However, the company says that demand growth in the agricultural potassium nitrate market could be impacted by the higher prices and continuous supply restrictions. Ultimately, says SQM, the sales volumes in 2022 may be lower than what was reported in 2021.

SQM’s Iodine and derivatives segment generated first quarter 2022 revenues of US$152.4 million, an increase of 59% from the prior year period. Volume sales of iodine grew 8% to 3,000 tonnes. The increase mostly related to X-ray contrast media and LCD. The recovery coupled with tight supply led to an increase in average prices of over 28% when compared with the fourth quarter of 2021. Even with these higher prices, SQM believes says that the iodine market will continue its growth in the coming quarters.

SQM’s Potassium Chloride and Potassium Sulfate segment had first quarter revenues of US$114.1 million, an increase of 89% from the first quarter of 2021. The company reported significantly higher prices that reached US$805/tonne and were 170% higher than prices in the first quarter of 2021. Sales volumes declined 30% to 142,000 tonnes.

SQM’s Industrial Chemicals segment revenue decreased 26% to US$27.1 million during the first quarter of 2022. Industrial nitrates sales volumes were 68% lower at 17,000 tonnes, as a result of lower solar salt sales volumes.

Volume 36, Issue 11

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