Top Lithium Miner Sees Inflation as Speed Bump in Supply Growth – by Yvonne Yue Li (Financial Post/Bloomberg – August 6, 2021)

(Bloomberg) — Higher labor and supply costs will slow but not stop expansion in lithium mining, according to the chief of the world’s largest producer of the key ingredient in rechargeable batteries.

Labor tightness in Western Australia has caused a three-month delay at Albemarle Corp.’s Kemerton II expansion.

The miner has to pay rates that more than double the level before the pandemic to retain workers there, while dealing with higher electricity prices in North America and Europe. Freight rates have also increased 30% to 40% globally.

Producers are starting to ramp up amid signs the market is recovering from a glut, with the lithium supply tightening and prices surging.

Global demand is projected to rise as much as five fold as a shift to low-carbon energy sources fuels sales of electric vehicles. Meanwhile, Covid-triggered shortages in materials have driven up costs across industries, with U.S. inflation exceeding forecasts in the last four months.

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