Chile’s SQM expects strong lithium demand despite price pressures

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FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the brine pools and processing areas of the SQM lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat, in the Atacama desert of northern Chile

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Chilean miner SQM saw demand for lithium soar in the last quarter and expects the trend to continue despite price pressures, its executives said during an earnings call on Thursday.

The company forecasts global lithium demand will grow 35% through 2022, according to a presentation shared during the call to discuss its second-quarter results.

SQM expects its own lithium sales volumes to reach at least 145,000 tons by the end of the year, it added.

While the price of the mineral could face pressure from ongoing supply delays, demand should nonetheless remain strong in the upcoming quarters, a top executive for the company said, adding that it makes sense to renegotiate contracts with clients according to market temperament.

The miner posted earlier this week a net profit of $859.3 million in the second quarter, a near 10-fold increase from the $89.8 million it posted a year earlier.

The miner raked in $1.85 billion in lithium sales in the second quarter, versus $163 million a year before.

Shares in SQM were down more than 6% during the morning, with the results slightly below market forecasts.

(Reporting by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Brendan O’Boyle and David Holmes)