Allkem sees lithium carbonate prices rising 80% in half year to June

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(Reuters) - Australian lithium miner Allkem Ltd said on Tuesday lithium carbonate prices for the second half of the fiscal year 2022 were expected to jump 80% from the first half because of booming demand for the metal used in electric vehicle batteries.

Lithium prices soared last year amid supply constraints, as automakers around the world began investing billions of dollars to transition to cleaner modes of transportation because of a global push to cut carbon emissions.

However, Allkem said the steep rise in Omicron-related COVID-19 cases globally will continue to impact operations and development activity in the near-term.

Allkem, formed from the merger of Orocobre Ltd and Galaxy Resources, said it continues to see a strong demand for its spodumene concentrate, the ore from which lithium is extracted, and lithium carbonate, as supply-side tightness persists in raw materials and throughout the battery supply chain.

The company's Mount Cattlin mine produced 52,225 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of spodumene concentrate in the quarter, bringing total annual production to 230,065 dmt, exceeding its previous guidance by 4.5%.

But production at Allkem's flagship Olaroz mine for the quarter slipped 2% to 3,644 tonnes from last year.

Allkem added that commissioning and first production at its Sal De Vida mine has been delayed till the second half of 2023, because of permitting and pandemic-related issues.

(Reporting by Indranil Sarkar and Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Karishma Singh)