Albemarle shares drop after Chile rejects hike in lithium quota – by Dave Sherwood and Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – October 8, 2018)

SANTIAGO/HOUSTON (Reuters) – Shares of Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) fell as much as 2.3 percent on Monday following news that Chile’s nuclear regulator refused to increase the company’s quota to sell lithium produced from its Salar de Atacama operation.

The Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) rejected Albemarle’s March request to increase its quota to sell lithium products by 258,446 tonnes, according to a Sept. 13 agency resolution obtained by Reuters via a Chilean freedom of information request.

Albemarle spokeswoman Andrea Cole said CCHEN’s concerns are of a “technical nature” and that the company would re-submit its request “in the coming weeks,” hoping to resolve the issue.

Shares of the world’s largest lithium producer, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, pared losses and closed down 0.8 percent at $102.25. CCHEN oversees the sale and export of lithium from Chile, though not production, which is controlled by a separate state agency.

The setback could represent a major blow to Albemarle, which aims to satisfy spiking global demand for the ultralight metal used in batteries that power products ranging from cell phones to electric vehicles.

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