Lithium Miner Albemarle Lifts Outlook as EV Battery Demand Surges

Brine pools at the Albemarle Corp. lithium mine in Chile.
Brine pools at the Albemarle Corp. lithium mine in Chile. (Cristobal Olivares/Bloomberg News)

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Albemarle Corp., the world’s largest producer of lithium, raised its outlook for the second time this month as tight supply and growing electric vehicle demand forces battery makers to pay up for the metal.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based miner now expects sales from $5.8 billion to $6.2 billion this year, up from its previous estimate of $5.2 billion to $5.6 billion. It boosted profit forecasts for the year due to “additional index-referenced, variable-price contracts for battery-grade lithium sales,” it said in a statement. Shares jumped as much as 5.3% in trading after normal exchange hours.

Demand for electric vehicles — and the batteries that power them — has driven prices for key metals higher, even sparking fears of shortages of materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel. Lithium supplies are a concern in particular because there’s no substitute for it in electric vehicle batteries. A gauge of lithium prices more than doubled in the first four months of this year after surging 280% last year.

The company last increased its guidance on May 4 when it released first-quarter earnings. Overall, the midpoint of Albemarle’s 2022 sales estimate is 38% higher than just a few weeks ago.

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