SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Shares in Chilean lithium producer SQM jumped on Wednesday after it announced plans to invest about $2.1 billion in the next five years to strengthen its production amid an expected increase in demand for the ultralight battery metal.
About $1.332 billion of this investment would be in lithium operations, with further amounts going toward growing its nitrates and iodine capacity and maintenance between 2019 to 2023, Chief Executive Ricardo Ramos said in a presentation to investors in New York on Tuesday.
B-Series shares in SQM were up more than 5% in trading on Santiago’s blue-chip stock exchange following the promise of beefed-up investment.
Demand and prices of lithium have been stifled in recent months by global trade tensions, the scaling back of electric vehicle subsidies in China and new output.
But Pablo Altimiras, senior vice president for SQM´s lithium and iodine division, said he expects solid demand in the coming years.