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It’s Hard to Keep Up With All That Lithium Demand

  • As established players expand, some newcomers seen struggling
  • New mine teething problems tightening credit for projects
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Hidden within the salt flats high in the Andes mountains of South America are vast deposits of the lithium that Elon Musk may need for his electric-car revolution. But extracting the mineral from brine ponds created by Orocobre Ltd. has proved more difficult than expected.

Bad weather and pump glitches meant production at the Olaroz facility in northern Argentina was 21 percent below Orocobre’s initial target in the year through June. While things are getting back on track, Chief Executive Officer Richard Seville says the company “either underestimated the complexity or overestimated our capability.”