Albemarle, through its subsidiary Albemarle Lithium UK, has agreed to acquire China-based Guangxi Tianyuan New Energy Materials, to expand its lithium production capabilities.

Under terms of the agreement, the company will buy all outstanding equity from Tianyuan’s shareholders for around $200m, subject to certain adjustments.

The transaction is expected to be closed in early 2022, subject to customary closing conditions.

Albemarle CEO Kent Masters said: “The acquisition of Tianyuan, which owns and operates a newly constructed lithium processing plant, aligns with our strategy to pursue profitable growth in line with customer demand.

“This will be a key component of our next wave of projects designed to increase our conversion capacity in a capital-efficient manner in the coming years.

“As the global transition to cleaner energy rapidly develops, this added lithium capacity will enable us to help our customers achieve their growth and sustainability ambitions.”

Established in 2017, Tianyuan is a lithium converter. It has recently built a lithium processing plant strategically located near the Port of Qinzhou in Guangxi.

The processing facility is designed with an annual conversion capacity of up to 25,000 metric tons LCE and is capable of producing battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.

The project is currently in commissioning phase and is expected to commence commercial production in the first half of 2022.

Albemarle is a North Carolina-based chemicals manufacturer, engaged in lithium, bromine specialties and catalysts related operations.

Earlier this year, the company has announced its plans to double production at its Silver Peak facility in Nevada, US over the next five years.

It is expected to invest $30m-$50m by 2025 to expand capacity at the site, where lithium is extracted from brines in the Clayton Valley basin.

In September last year, Albemarle was selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as a critical partner for two lithium research projects, through a Battery Manufacturing Lab Call.