February 27, 2017 / 5:27 PM / 7 months ago

Albemarle's Chilean lithium plant partially closed after storm

SANTIAGO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - A lithium plant at Albemarle’s operations in northern Chile was operating partially on Monday after the firm evacuated workers due to heavy weekend rains, the company told Reuters.

At least three people were killed and some 19 missing following the storms, which caused mudslides and water outages.

Copper mines in the top metals exporter said they were unaffected but U.S. lithium firm Albemarle’s subsidiary Rockwood said it had suspended operations at the Salar de Atacama plant during the weekend as a precaution.

“Today (Monday) the plant is functioning partially and a general evaluation is being made,” the company said.

The Salar de Atacama salt flat is a major global source of lithium, a key ingredient in the rechargeable batteries used by electric vehicles. Chile’s SQM , which also operates in the area, said its operations had so far been unaffected. (Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Writing by Rosalba O‘Brien; Editing by Bill Trott)

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