SANTIAGO, March 14 (Reuters) - Chilean lithium miner SQM on Thursday received environmental approval to expand its lithium carbonate production plant, the local environmental regulator told Reuters, marking a milestone as the company seeks to boost output of the coveted ultralight battery metal.
The $400 million plant expansion, once complete, would allow the Chinese-backed SQM to eventually produce as much as 180,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate from its Salar de Atacama operations in Chile.
SQM is the world’s number two producer of lithium, a key component in the batteries that power electric vehicles, cell phones and other consumer goods. China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp bought a stake in the firm last year. (Reporting by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero Editing by Alistair Bell)