Strong lithium prices boost Albemarle’s 2017 earnings
Published: Thursday, 29 March 2018
Albemarle plans continued growth in 2018 after raising earnings by 17% last year.
Higher lithium prices were a key driver behind a 17%
year-on-year increase in earnings before interest, taxes,
depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) at Albemarle Corp in
2017 to $885.5 million.
Albemarle’s lithium business grew by 56% in
2017 from the previous year, contributing $137 million to its
Ebitda figure in the fourth quarter alone, the producer
Industrial Minerals assessed the spot prices of lithium
carbonate min 99.5% Li2CO3 battery grade, DDP Europe and United
States,* at $17.50-19.50 per kg on February 22 this year. This
was up from $13.00-17.50 per kg on August 17 last year.
"We made progress on our lithium capital projects consistent
with our plans," Albemarle chairman, president and chief
executive office Luke Kissam said.
An expansion project at the Greenbushes spodumene mine in
Australia is scheduled to come on stream in the second quarter
of 2019. Greenbushes is owned by the Talison Lithium joint
venture which Albemarle has with Chinese producer Tianqi
This will increase production of lithium carbonate
equivalents (LCEs) to more than 160,000 tonnes per year from
80,000 tpy at present.
"Our goals for 2018 are clear: deliver the cash flow needed
to fund growth, and execute on our capital plan to meet the
increasing needs of our customers," Kissam said.
The company is also planning to increase its production in
Chile to 80,000 tpy of LCEs by 2020.
Demand remains strong for lithium concentrates, primarily
due to the lithium-ion battery boom that is being exacerbated
by tight supply and a lack of processing capacity.
Albemarle expects net sales of $3.2-3.4 billion and adjusted
Ebitda of $955 million-1.005 billion this year, it added.
The company is active in the lithium and bromine markets and
has lithium production sites across North America, South
America and Australia.
*All lithium carbonate and hydroxide prices are
available in the Industrial Minerals’ Battery Price Report. Lithium technical and
industrial grade prices are available on the Industrial
Minerals Pricing Database.