Albemarle is the first lithium producer to begin the independent assessment, leading the way for transparency in lithium extraction operations
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), a leader in the global specialty chemicals industry and in lithium extraction and production, announced today that it has commenced an independent, third-party assessment using the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance's (IRMA) Standard for Responsible Mining at the company's lithium brine extraction site, the Salar Plant, located in Northern Chile in the Salar de Atacama.
IRMA is globally considered the most comprehensive and rigorous certification standard for assurance of responsible mining. The organization specifies objectives and requirements with the greatest depth, breadth, and specificity for environmentally and socially responsible mining practices.
Albemarle's third-party audit makes the company the first global lithium producer to commence such an assessment using the rigorous IRMA Standard. ERM Certification and Verification Services (ERM CVS), an IRMA-approved certification body, is executing the audit, which includes a desk review followed by an onsite audit. Onsite auditors will interview mine management, department staff, mine workers and external community stakeholders; review relevant data and documents; develop corrective action items, and publicly disclose the audit summary. Once the process has been completed, a full report will be published on IRMA's website for public access.
Prior to beginning the independent audit with ERM CVS, Albemarle was the first lithium producer to complete and submit IRMA's self-assessment process at the Salar Plant in February 2021. The third-party assessment covers 26 areas, including water management, human rights, greenhouse gas emissions, fair labor, and terms of work.
"How we produce lithium in the Salar de Atacama is as important as how much lithium we produce. We are committed to operating transparently and growing responsibly as part of a sustainable supply chain that helps our customers reach their sustainability goals," said Ellen Lenny-Pessagno, Albemarle's Vice President of Lithium Sustainability. "This third-party audit process will help us not only better understand how we can continue to improve our sustainability efforts, but also assure our customers and communities that we will always do what is right."
"We appreciate Albemarle's leadership in initiating such a rigorous review and encourage the various stakeholders to share their perspectives with the auditors," said Aimee Boulanger, IRMA's Executive Director. "This is an opportunity to further protect this fragile region's communities and the environment on which they depend, and for the market to value that effort."
Albemarle shareholders, customers, employees, and the public can visit the Mines Under Assessment page of IRMA's website for updated information on the company's third-party audit. For more information about IRMA, please refer to www.responsiblemining.net.
Albemarle's Sustainable Commitments in Chile
Albemarle's freshwater rights at the Salar make up 0.5%, or less than 23.5 liters per second (L/s), of the total freshwater rights in the Salar de Atacama basin. Of those rights, the company uses only 9 L/s for its camp, producing potassium chloride, and rinsing equipment. The company uses no fresh water in its brine extraction and concentration process.
The company recently committed to reducing the intensity of freshwater use by 25% by 2030 in areas of high and extremely high-water risk as defined by the World Resources Institute, which includes the Antofagasta region. To that end, Albemarle has invested $100 million in a thermal evaporator at its La Negra operation to increase conversion capacity without a corresponding increase in freshwater use. No other lithium manufacturer is currently utilizing this technology. La Negra is not included in this IRMA third-party audit as the current standard only covers the mine site, not stand-alone mineral processing facilities, and IRMA's draft Mineral Processing Standard has not yet been finalized.
Albemarle also shares 3.5% of revenues from its Chilean operations with local indigenous communities that are part of the Council of Atacameño Peoples, through a historic agreement signed in 2016. These 18 communities are responsible for selecting and implementing the projects to be funded by these Albemarle resources. To date, communities have built new and expanded water systems locally; constructed a wastewater treatment plant; built two photovoltaic plants; installed photovoltaic panels on homes; reduced reliance on diesel generators, and provided more than 500 scholarships. Lastly, five communities are in the process of building or have completed community centers.
Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) is a global specialty chemicals company with leading positions in lithium, bromine, and catalysts. We think beyond business-as-usual to power the potential of companies in many of the world's largest and most critical industries, such as energy, electronics, and transportation. We actively pursue a sustainable approach to managing our diverse global footprint of world-class resources. In conjunction with our highly experienced and talented global teams, our deep-seated values, and our collaborative customer relationships, we create value-added and performance-based solutions that enable a safer and more sustainable future.
We regularly post information to www.albemarle.com, including notification of events, news, financial performance, investor presentations and webcasts, non-GAAP reconciliations, SEC filings and other information regarding our company, its businesses, and the markets it serves.
IRMA envisions a world where the mining industry respects the human rights and aspirations of affected communities; provides safe, healthy, and supportive workplaces; minimizes harm to the environment, and leaves positive legacies. IRMA offers objective, independent third-party verification of industrial-scale mine sites against a comprehensive definition of responsible mining agreed to through a collaborative, multi-stakeholder process. This definition, which forms the basis of IRMA's Standard for Responsible Mining, covers the full range of issues related to the impacts of mining.
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SOURCE Albemarle Corporation