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Livent unveils slate of global lithium capacity expansions

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Livent unveils slate of global lithium capacity expansions

Highlights

Lithium carbonate capacity to reach 100,000 mt/year by 2030

Plans new lithium hydroxide plant in China

Company eyeing North America, Europe for recycling plant

  • Author
  • Nick Lazzaro
  • Editor
  • Manish Parashar
  • Commodity
  • Metals

Livent unveiled a slate of production expansion projects across its global operations May 3 that could increase total lithium hydroxide capacity to 55,000 mt/year by the end of 2025 and its lithium carbonate capacity to 100,000 mt/year by the end of 2030.

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The lithium carbonate projects are focused on Livent's existing operation in Argentina, which has a current capacity of 20,000 mt/year and is undergoing a first phase expansion to add another 20,000 mt/year by the end of 2023, according to the company's first-quarter earnings statement.

Livent said in February it would proceed with a second phase expansion in Argentina to expand output by another 20,000 mt/year in 2025. However, the company said May 3 that the second expansion would now include an additional 10,000 mt/year.

The lithium producer also said it was now evaluating a third expansion in Argentina to lift capacity again by 30,000 mt/year by 2030.

"By re-engineering the use of freshwater, the second expansion will not require access to any additional fresh water," the company said. "It also allows Livent to improve overall lithium yields and reduce water use intensity for current and future operations."

"[The third expansion] in Argentina would add up to 30,000 mt of additional lithium carbonate capacity," Livent added. "This expansion would deploy a more conventional pond evaporation-based process and require significantly less capital versus prior expansions."

In its lithium hydroxide portfolio, the Philadelphia-based company said it expects to add 15,000 mt/year of capacity in China at a "new location" by the end of 2023. It also plans to build a battery recycling facility in either North America or Europe that will produce secondary lithium hydroxide, it added.

"The company is exploring multiple opportunities for partnership and funding and believes the new facility could be in operation by the end of 2025, with production capacity of at least 10,000 mt/year," Livent said.

By the end of this year, Livent said it expects to complete its previously announced 5,000 mt/year lithium hydroxide capacity expansion in the US at its Bessemer City, North Carolina, facility.

The global lithium hydroxide capacity target for 2025 does not include the potential 34,000 mt/year of production that Nemaska Lithium could bring online in Quebec in 2025. Livent increased its ownership stake in Nemaska to 50% from 25% May 2.

Projects follow strong quarter

Livent's string of announcements follow a strong quarter for the company as revenue climbed amid escalating lithium prices.

"Strong lithium demand growth has continued in 2022," CEO Paul Graves said in the statement. "Published lithium prices in all forms have increased rapidly amid very tight market conditions and Livent continues to achieve higher realized prices across its entire product portfolio."

S&P Global Commodity Insights assessed the price of seaborne lithium hydroxide at $80,000/mt CIF North Asia April 29, up sharply from $31,700/mt at the beginning of 2022 and $9,000/mt at the start of 2021.

Meanwhile, lithium carbonate on the same basis was assessed at $75,000/mt, rising from $33,800/mt at the start of 2022 and from $6,350/mt at the start of 2021.

Livent reported a Q1 net income of $53.2 million on revenue of $143.5 million, compared with an $800,000 loss on sales of $91.7 million in Q1 2021.

For 2022, Livent said it now projects revenue to be in the range of $755 million to $835 million.