Albemarle Aims to Double Lithium Production in Australia
Albemarle plans expansion
On March 16, 2017, Albemarle (ALB) announced that it would double its lithium production capacity at its spodumene mine in Greenbushes, Australia. Talison, a joint venture between Albemarle and Tianqi Lithium, has approved the expansion. Greenbushes is the world’s largest active lithium mine. The expansion will enable the company to double production from the current 80,000 MT (metric tons) per year to more than 160,000 MT per year. The expansion is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019.
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John Mitchell, president of Lithium and Advanced Materials for Albemarle, said, “The expansion of the mine and ore upgrading facilities is a key deliverable in our supply strategy to grow total combined lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) production to approximately 165,000 MT/year early in the next decade.” The global demand for lithium is expected to grow to 410,055 MT per year by 2025.
Albemarle’s stock performance
As of March 17, 2017, Albemarle stock closed at $106.21 and gained 3.1% for the week. Albemarle outperformed the PowerShares WilderHill Progressive Energy Portfolio ETF (PUW), which gained 1.3% during the same period. Albemarle stock traded 17.0% above its 100-day moving average price of $90.79, indicating an upward trend in the stock. On a year-to-date (or YTD) basis, the stock is up 23.4%. Albemarle’s 52-week low is $60.34, and its 52-week high is $106.53.
Alternatively, investors can hold Albemarle indirectly by investing in the PowerShares WilderHill Progressive Energy Portfolio ETF, which invests 3.0% of its portfolio in Albemarle as of March 17, 2017. The other top holdings of the fund include Owens Corning (OC), A.O. Smith (AOS), and Golar Lng (GLNG) with weights of 3.2%, 3.0%, and 3.1%, respectively.