Rockwood Lithium opens new lithium production facility in Nevada; announces global price increases for lithium salts
Rockwood Lithium has opened its expanded manufacturing facility in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Rockwood is leveraging a $28.4-million investment from the Recovery Act to expand its North Carolina lithium production facility as well as its production operations in Silver Peak, Nevada.
This project will increase the United States’ capacity to produce lithium; the federal investment leveraged more than $46 million in additional private sector funding.
As the market for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and other advanced clean energy technologies grows worldwide, rare earth elements and other critical materials, including lithium, are facing increasing global demand. The Kings Mountain and Silver Peak plants will produce lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate—both used to produce lithium-ion batteries.
Between 1980 and 2009, the demand for lithium has tripled. After holding world leadership in lithium production in the early 1990s, the US now imports the majority of its lithium materials and compounds from South America.
In May, Rockwood announced global price increases, as contracts permit, of up to $1,000 per metric tonne for its lithium salts, especially lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, effective 1 July.
Rockwood Lithium also recently announced plans to invest $140 million in a new lithium carbonate production plant in Chile. That investment, along with the company’s $75-million expansion program in the United States, will increase total annual production capacity to 50,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent by end of 2013. (Earlier post.)