Lithium hydroxide expansion projects ramp up to meet demand

Lithium hydroxide spot prices continued to rise across the board in the week to Tuesday November 15, with key producers bringing expansion projects online and demand expected to remain healthy, market sources said

US-headquartered lithium major Livent has completed the expansion of its lithium hydroxide production plant in Bessemer City, in the US state of North Carolina, it said on Tuesday.

Completion of this project will allow the miner to take advantage of long-term growth opportunities and downstream incentives from the recently approved Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the US, the company said.

The plant has production capacity for 5,000 tonnes per year of lithium hydroxide and was expected to use lithium carbonate feedstock sourced by Livent’s international mining operations.

The IRA offers a tax credit for electric vehicles (EVs) with at least 80% of the lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese used in their construction having been extracted and processed in the US, or in a country with which it has a free trade agreement.

On a separate note, Australia-based lithium miner Allkem announced on November 15 that it has produced the first lithium hydroxide chemical at its Naraha lithium hydroxide production plant in Japan.

The Naraha plant is a joint venture between Allkem and Toyota Tsusho. Nameplate capacity is 10,000 tpy of lithium hydroxide.

Lithium hydroxide spot prices have been well supported through the year so far, with tight availability and healthy demand supporting the uptrend.

Fastmarkets’ most recent assessment of the lithium hydroxide monohydrate LiOH.H2O 56.5% LiOH min, battery grade, spot price, cif China, Japan & Korea, was $83-86 per kg on November 15. This price was up by 156% from $32-34 per kg at the beginning of 2022.

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