Demand for lithium, a key component of electric vehicle batteries, is expected to grow from 500,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate in 2021 to three to four million metric tons in less than a decade, according to McKinsey & Company.

Albemarle, the world’s largest producer of this critical metal and operator of mines in Australia, Chile and the United States, says it plans to bring another domestic lithium mine online by 2027 – Kings Mountain in North Carolina. She is already working at Silver Peak, Nevada.

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Albemarle is also building a $1.3 billion processing facility in South Carolina, where it will process battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The plant will support the manufacture of 2.4 million electric cars annually and will be able to process lithium from recycled batteries.

Despite this growth, Albemarle faces a number of potential headwinds including a potential economic downturn that could slow demand for electric vehicles, new battery chemistries that could reduce the need for lithium, battery recycling and additional competitors. Tesla Construction of a lithium refinery in Texas will begin in 2023.

To better understand how lithium, known as “white gold,” is extracted, the challenges involved and where production moves to the next stage, CNBC took a behind-the-scenes look at Albemarle’s operations in Chile and the United States.

Watch the video to learn more.


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