(Adds quotes, background on lithium demand, Albemarle share price)
By Felipe Iturrieta
SANTIAGO, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Chile sees no obstacles to approving Albemarle Corp’s request for an increase in its annual lithium production limit, given the high prices for the metal used in electric car batteries, a government official told Reuters on Thursday.
“There’s no reason to object to this request,” said Eduardo Bitran, head of the South American country’s CORFO state development agency. “Given the contract we have, this means royalties, more fiscal resources, more investment.”
Albemarle asked CORFO on Sept. 15 to raise its quota to 125,000 tonnes per year from 80,000 tonnes currently, citing technological advancements that allowed it to obtain more of the mineral without needing to extract more brine out of the Atacama salt flat in northern Chile.
Albemarle shares were up 1 percent at $131.33 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading.
Bitran said he hoped CORFO’s board would consider the request in November and approve the change this year. Albemarle said it could invest $1 billion in Chile over the next five years if the plan is approved.
The Atacama salt flat is part of the so-called “lithium triangle” in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, a region containing a large portion of the world’s lithium reserves. Investment and output have increased in recent years as demand for electric vehicles surges. (Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Lisa Von Ahn)