Albemarle guest blog: Sustainable lithium extraction for a green energy transition

Ellen Lenny-Pessagno, global vice president for external affairs and sustainability for Albemarle Energy Storage, joins us for a guest blog ahead of giving her insights on a sustainable future ahead of the Fastmarkets Lithium Supply and Battery Raw Materials event in Las Vegas on June 20-22

As global vice president for external affairs and sustainability for Albemarle Energy Storage, Ellen Lenny-Pessagno leads a global team to develop and implement the Energy Storage external affairs and sustainability strategy. Ellen works proactively with government authorities and communities to create long-term relationships, and develops partnerships with organizations such as industry associations, think tanks, and other external stakeholders to support Energy Storage growth. As a member of the Energy Storage Leadership Team, Ellen and her colleagues developed and are currently leading the execution of the 10-year energy storage growth strategy.

Ellen is a frequent speaker in the most important forums related to lithium, sustainability and community dialogue.

Hear Ellen speak at the Fastmarkets 15th Lithium Supply and Battery Raw Materials 2023 Conference in Las Vegas on June 20-22.

Register for your place today

Move towards a green energy transition ‘top priority’

As sustainability becomes an increasingly critical global pursuit, the efforts we make to decarbonize the world, reduce our environmental impact, and move towards widespread electrification only increase in importance. The opportunities for our business are far-ranging, enabling transformations in mobility, energy, connectivity and health. Through sustainable lithium extraction, we can decrease our reliance on fossil fuels while laying the foundation for a mobility future powered by lithium-ion batteries. While many companies have made strides prioritizing renewable energy advancement, Albemarle works diligently to ensure that our mining efforts benefit society and the communities in which we work. Albemarle’s approach is to drive dialogue, offer transparency, and utilize stringent third-party audit opportunities to keep our mining practices as sustainable as possible.

As an industry leader, we feel a great responsibility to mine and extract our resources the right way and encourage others to do the same. We work to make transparency in the mining and extraction process the industry standard. Enhancing common values with the communities we operate in and around is paramount to Albemarle. Through a voluntary agreement, we share 3.5% of revenue with the Council of Atacamenian People (CPA) to reinvest in the communities surrounding the Salar de Atacama in Chile. The communities have implemented emblematic projects with this funding, constructing community centers and solar (PV) projects, and awarding scholarships. This agreement is valid through our concession period, 2043, and we look forward to witnessing the substantial and positive community impact these development projects will have. Our agreement also stipulates meeting monthly with leaders of 18 indigenous communities. These meetings allow us to share information on our operations, work through any issues we jointly face, and support community leaders with their development plans. In 2022 alone, roughly $600 million was paid to the Chilean government for our lithium extraction, which is utilized by the Chilean development agency to support small and medium sized businesses and other important development projects.

Albemarle’s annual sustainability report highlights set industry standards

As part of our corporate sustainability goals, Albemarle releases an annual sustainability report to communicate our efforts year-after-year transparently. The 2022 sustainability report was released today, June 5 and we encourage you dive in. We also welcome you to join our virtual Sustainability Day webcast on June 20 at 9am. Some highlights of this year’s report include launching MercLok™, a game-changing remediation technology designed to rapidly stabilize mercury to prevent environmental and health hazards; expected investment of over $180 million to establish the Albemarle Technology Park for advanced materials research, process development and product innovation; and our announced $150 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles.

Albemarle takes pride in working closely with the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) and shares their vision of a world where the mining industry respects the human rights and aspirations of affected communities; provides safe, healthy and supportive workplaces; minimizes harm to the environment; and leaves positive legacies. IRMA is a system with a unique model of equal governance shared between civil society alongside corporate actors that works with third-party auditors to assess how responsibly mineral extraction occurs. IRMA offers mineral purchasers an unprecedented level of insight into the practices of their mining suppliers. In recent years more OEMs have begun to improve their standards of sourcing critical minerals by requesting responsible practices at the mine site. Albemarle is the first lithium miner in the world to commit to an independent audit of a mining operation under the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (the IRMA Standard).

The IRMA Standard includes best practice requirements on 26 topics and hundreds of subtopics that address comprehensive and rigorous mining standards. This standard was developed through a multi-stakeholder process, resulting in a shared definition of responsible mining. The extensive assessment process includes publicly announced audits, auditors’ interviews at the mine sites and beyond, community outreach during and follow-up after audits, and making final audit reports open and freely available on the IRMA website.

To keep the assessment objective, each IRMA evaluation is done by a third-party independent assurance provider. IRMA-trained independent auditors go to the mines and evaluate how the mines are meeting IRMA Standard requirements. The onsite audits are publicly noted 30 days beforehand and include input from communities, NGOs, and mine workers. Over time, sites at any performance level can demonstrate that they are moving towards better mining practices. About 40% of the IRMA standards involve making visible and meaningful improvements hand in hand with surrounding communities, which stood out to Albemarle as many other industry standards do not have that community focus.

Responsibility in sustainability of vital importance

Albemarle makes daily efforts to remain a responsible industry leader in mining. Whether it is driving dialogue, sharing our sustainability initiatives and progress with employees and the public, or volunteering to adhere to the current, stringent industry guidelines, we want to ensure we are on the right side of mining initiative history for years to come. I will be furthering the discussion surrounding sustainability during the “Accelerating Sustainability: From ethical sourcing of materials to faster-charging infrastructure” panel at the Fastmarkets Lithium Supply and Battery Raw Materials event in Las Vegas with industry experts from the U.S. Department of State, Liontown Resources and others. Additionally, I will participate in the “Social Acceptability & Permitting: Shifting public mindset” panel with Steve LeVine, Editor of The Electric, and Steve Feldgus, from the U.S. Department of the Interior. I look forward to seeing you there at the largest global forum for lithium and battery raw materials.

Want more insights into sustainability in the battery materials market?

Hear more from Ellen Lenny-Pessagno and other industry experts at the Fastmarkets 15th annual Lithium Supply and Battery Raw Materials conference 2023 in Las Vegas.

Secure your place today

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