CEO Luke Kissim said earthworks would commence in the July quarter with commissioning planned for the second half of 2021.
"We have commenced a capital investment project that is expected to improve out lithium carbonate yields … by as much as 30% without increasing the amount of brine being used further ensuring the sustainability of the Salar de Atacama and increasing the flexibility of our operations," he said.
Kissim provided no details about the technology or the investment it would make.
In October, the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN), which authorises lithium production quotas, rejected an increase to Albemarle's quota on the grounds that insufficient information had been supplied by the company about the investments it wanted to make.
The company expects to produce 40,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate this year from its La Negra 1 and 2 operations, with the 40,000t oper annum La Negra 3 and 4 expansion projects due to be completed at the end of 2020 or early 2021 after equipment delays.