SQM explained that the delay in his project was offset, in part, by higher demand and prices will grow more than 25% in 2018, before the battery market for electric vehicles is booming.
The company, controlled by businessman Julio Ponce, added that the delays suffered by other mining projects also influenced the global lithium supply.
"These two factors contributed to maintain high market prices during the third quarter, our average price reached US $ 16,500. It is expected that prices remain at & # 39; these levels for the rest year, "said SQM f & # 39; statement.
SQM said in & # 39; in October it was facing delays in the modernization of its lithium carbonate plant in the Salar de Atacama. The project, first announced in 2017, was designed to improve lithium production capacity of the company to 70,000 tons.
It "had an impact on our ability to produce lithium & # 39; quality during the third quarter, affecting our sales", said CEO & # 39; SQM Patricio de Solminihac.
In the third quarter, the lithium business revenue & # 39; SQM fell by 8.9 percent year on year to 9,300 tons, while the profits of the mining company reached 83.5 million dollars, 26 percent lower than that achieved in the same quarter. period of last year.
"We are working diligently to solve these problems (in the expansion of the lithium plant) as much as & # 39; possible. This delay x & # 39; likely to have an impact on the sales of our lithium in the last three months, and delay some of those volumes for the first quarter of 2019, "said De Solminihac.
The news did not reach a good market. The S series of securities of SQM decreased by & # 39; more than 2 percent at the opening, but later recovered part of that loss.
The Minister estimated that its sales volumes will end in & # 39; about 45,000 tons & # 39; lithium by 2018, a figure below the estimated previously, but this is offset by high prices and tight inventories.
"By the end of the year, we have been positively surprised by the demand growth in the lithium market, especially lithium hydroxide", said De Solminihac.
The results of & # 39; SQM emerged shortly after the Chinese firm authorized court Tianqi Lithium Corp. to acquire nearly a quarter & # 39; SQM to approximately US $ 4.1 billion from Canadian fertilizer company nutrients Ltd. SQM said it would go beyond the Albemarle as the largest lithium producer in the world by 2022.