US-based lithium producer Albemarle has secured approval to increase its currently authorised lithium brine extraction rate at the company’s facility in the Salar de Atacama, Chile.
The approval has been granted by the Environmental Assessment Commission (CEA) of the Antofagasta Region.
With the increase of lithium brine extraction, the company will be able to meet the rising demand for lithium.
Albemarle also entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chilean Government to increase its output of lithium.
Under the MoU, Albemarle will get sufficient lithium to support the production of 70,000mt per year of technical and battery grade lithium carbonate over a 27-year period.
The deal will also provide the company with 6,000mt annually of lithium chloride at its two manufacturing facilities in La Negra, Antofagasta, as well as at a third lithium carbonate facility planned to be constructed.
The MoU will provide Albemarle with an option to get an additional lithium quota regarding the development of lithium hydroxide production directly from brine.
Albemarle president and CEO Luke Kissam said: "Our sustainable, state-of-the-art operations allow us to maximise the amount of lithium extracted from the brine, thus increasing the value of this resource for the stakeholders."
"This agreement will not only establish Chile as the global leader in the production of value-added lithium-based products, it provides economics that justify Albemarle’s continued investment in the region."
Albemarle hopes to execute the agreement by the end of the first quarter of 2016.