Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) on Tuesday called for lithium prices to remain high indefinitely in order to help the mining industry develop new sources of the electric vehicle (EV) battery metal and fuel the green energy transition.
The push for higher prices by the world’s largest lithium producer is likely to exacerbate the growing tension between EV manufacturers and mining companies that supply the materials crucial for the all-electric shift, with high metals prices threatening EV profitability.
Lithium prices have more than doubled in the past year and are up nearly ninefold in the past three years, according to an index tracked by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. For 2023, Albemarle expects the price it receives for its lithium to jump 40% over 2022 levels.
Albemarle supplies many of the world’s automakers, including Tesla Inc, which raised its prices last year due to the rising cost of lithium only to cut them in early 2023 on concerns that demand was eroding.
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