Flexibility key for lithium industry, executives say
Published: Friday, 30 August 2019
Having the capacity to produce either lithium carbonate or hydroxide is essential to the commercial survival of projects industry delegates have heard.
With lithium hydroxide’s share of the global
lithium chemicals market continuing to grow, industry
participants expect the material to overtake lithium carbonate
as the preferred choice of compound used in lithium-ion
(li-ion) batteries within the next decade.
"We need to be prepared [to supply] either product," Pablo
Altimiras, vice president of lithium and iodine business for
Chile’s SQM, said at Fastmarkets’
11th Lithium Supply and Markets Conference in Santiago in June.
"Hydroxide consumption is growing more rapidly than carbonate,
but we will still have high levels of carbonate demand for many
Managing this production flexibility will require producers
to work closely with customers to understand and anticipate
their requirements, because most battery-grade lithium
materials are essentially bespoke products.
"Demand for… specific products will depend on the
evolution of the battery market," David Ryan, vice president
for corporate strategy and investor relations at US lithium
producer Albermarle, said.
"We see a more significant shift to hydroxide," he added,
"but carbonate will always be a great part of our