Albemarle subsidiary Albemarle Lithium UK has closed the purchase of China-based Guangxi Tianyuan New Energy Materials (Tianyuan) in a $200m deal.

Established in 2017, Tianyuan owns a lithium processing plant strategically located near the Port of Qinzhou in Guangxi.

With a conversion capacity of up to 25,000 metric tonnes per annum (mtpa) of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), the processing facility is capable of producing battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.

The acquisition forms part of Albemarle’s plan to expand its lithium production capabilities.

Albemarle CEO Kent Masters said: “The addition of Tianyuan’s operations to Albemarle’s high-quality lithium assets strengthens our ability to reliably meet the increasing global demand for battery-grade lithium.

“We welcome the Tianyuan team’s support as we help our customers and the world transition to more sustainable energy use.”

Albemarle recently secured a grant of nearly $150m from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to fund a part of the estimated cost to build a new lithium concentrator facility at Kings Mountain, North Carolina.

To be funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the grant forms part of the country’s efforts to boost domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and the electrical grid.

Albemarle anticipates the concentrator facility to supply up to 350,000mtpa of spodumene concentrate to the company’s planned mega-flex lithium conversion facility, which will have the capacity to produce up to 100,000mtpa of battery-grade lithium.