The SQM announced that the delay in the project partially compensated for the high prices and demand in 2018, which will grow by more than 25% before the rising electric vehicle battery market.
The company, controlled by the businessman Julio Ponce, added that the delay in other mining projects has affected the global supply of lithium.
"These two factors contributed to keeping market prices high during the third quarter, with our average prices reaching US $ 16,500. SQM is expected to remain at these levels for the rest of the year," SQM said.
In October, the SQM said there were delays in the modernization of the lithium carbonate plant in Salar de Atacama. The project, announced for the first time in 2017, was designed to increase the lithium production capacity of the company to 70,000 tons.
SQM CEO Patricio de Solminihac said, "This has affected our ability to produce high-quality lithium that impacted our sales in the third quarter."
In the third quarter, SQM's lithium business revenue fell 8.9 percent year on year to 9.300 tons, while mining companies' profits reached $ 83.5 million, down 26 percent from the same quarter. last year period.
"We are working diligently to solve these problems (in the expansion of the lithium plant) as soon as possible, which will probably affect our sales of lithium in the last quarter and will delay some of these volumes to the first quarter of 2019," De Solminihac said.
News was not well received in the market. SQM series B securities fell more than 2 percent at the opening, but later they recovered some of those losses.
Mining estimated that sales volume would reach about 45,000 tons of lithium until 2018. This figure was a figure below the previously predicted figure, but would be balanced with high prices and tight inventories.
De Solminihac, "by the end of the year in the lithium market demand, especially lithium hydroxide, we were surprised by the increase in a positive way," he said.
The results of the SQM are that a court authorizes the Chinese firm Tianqi Lithium Corp to purchase almost a quarter of the SQM from the Canadian fertilizer company Nutrien Ltd for US $ 4.1 billion. appeared shortly after. Albemarle competed as the world's largest lithium manufacturer in 2022.