November 8, 2018 / 3:56 PM / a year ago

Albemarle freezes Chile expansion plans in wake of lithium tech scrutiny

Nov 8 (Reuters) - Albemarle Corp’s chief executive officer on Thursday defended a previously announced process the company has said could boost lithium production in Chile, but then postponed two expansion projects that would have needed the new technology to be successful.

Albemarle said it will stop engineering work on its planned La Negra V and VI expansion projects. The company had said last year it developed a process that would more than triple its lithium output in Chile without using more water, an announcement that drew scrutiny from regulators.

“All (Chilean regulators) want to see is some proof that it’s going to work before they give it to us. That’s it. It is not a big deal, OK? It’s not a big deal. And we only need it if we build,” La Negra V and VI, Chief Executive Officer Luke Kissam said on a conference call with investors. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder in Houston; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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