AT A GLANCE: Chile’s SQM lithium revenue up 107% y-o-y in Q1 2021

A summary of results for the lithium division of Chilean producer Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM) for the first quarter of 2021, taken from its quarterly update published on Wednesday May 19 and its earnings conference call on May 20.

In brief

  • Revenues from sales of lithium and derivatives totaled $135.2 million in the first quarter (ended March 31 2021), up by 107% from $65.3 million year on year.
  • The company’s sales volumes in the lithium business increased by approximately 180% year on year in the first quarter.
  • Gross profit for the lithium and derivatives segment accounted for approximately 26% of the company’s consolidated gross profit for the first quarter.

Key first-quarter figures - (year-on-year percentage change)

Lithium and derivatives
Sales volume: 23,900 tonnes, up by 179% year on year
Revenue: $135.2 million, up by 107% year on year

Operations outlook

  • The company expects production to be about 90,000-95,000 tonnes in 2021, increasing to approximately 140,000 tonnes in 2022.
  • The company remains on target to reach a production capacity of 120,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate and 21,500 tonnes of lithium hydroxide in Chile by the end of 2021.
  • SQM’s target is to reach 180,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate and 30,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide in Chile by 2022-end.

Key quotes - Ricardo Ramos, SQM’s chief executive officer
“In the lithium business, we have only [had] positive news over the past few months. We [had] strong demand growth for electric vehicles during the first quarter of the year, more than doubling when compared to last year, making us believe that annual demand for lithium chemicals could grow more than 30%, [which is] more than previously expected.”

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