Rockwood Lithium was one of the world’s largest lithium producers, along with Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE:SQM) and FMC (NYSE:FMC).
However, in 2014 Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) announced plans to acquire its parent company, Rockwood Holdings (NYSE:ROC) for $6.2 billion, taking the top spot for itself.
At the time, Bloomberg said that the transaction would be “the largest takeover of a diversified chemicals company since Solvay SA bought Rhodia SA in 2011.” Meanwhile, Chris Berry of the Disruptive Discoveries Journal said at the end of 2014 that he was surprised at the merger, and that he had expected more consolidation in the junior lithium space.
Several months later, the acquisition closed for $5.7 billion, and Albemarle has since worked hard to integrate Rockwood Lithium’s operations into its own business.
The integration was no small feat as Albemarle has nearly doubled in size since the Rockwood acquisition and now employs 6,900 people. Rockwood Lithium has operations in Chile in the Salar de Atacama, and in Nevada at its Silver Peak mine.
Albemarle has also gained a stake in the Greenbushes mine in Australia, since Rockwood had a 49-percent interest in the company that owns the mine. China’s Chengdu Tianqi Industry Group owns the other 51 percent.
In any case, Albemarle’s acquisition of Rockwood Lithium spoke to the company’s growing interest in the lithium sector. The move came at a critical point in time as well, since lithium prices have been on a tear as of late due to rising lithium-ion battery demand.