Baton Rouge specialty chemicals maker Albemarle Corp. is starting production at a lithium carbonate production plant near the port of Antofagasta in northern Chile.

The plant will help the company meet the growing demand for lithium used in lithium ion batteries.

Albemarle said the plant is on schedule to produce commercial quantities of lithium carbonate during the third quarter.

“The company invested roughly $200 million to ensure we have a reliable source of supply for our customers as their demand for lithium, especially high purity lithium compounds, increases,” Albemarle President and CEO Luke Kissam said.

Albemarle got into the lithium business with its $6.2 billion acquisition of New Jersey-based Rockwood Holdings in January.