July 25, 2018 / 9:45 PM / a year ago

CORRECTED-Outgoing Albemarle executive to join Chilean cobalt miner

(Corrects name of company to Genlith from Genlith in July 25 story)

July 25 (Reuters) - Privately held clean energy investor Genlith Inc said on Wednesday that it hired outgoing Albemarle Corp executive John Mitchell to run its Chilean cobalt subsidiary.

Mitchell, who has run Albemarle’s lithium business since 2015, will join Genlith’s Chilean Cobalt Corp subsidiary next month, Genlith said in a statement.

Mitchell’s exit from Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer and a supplier of the mineral used to make batteries for Tesla Inc, came as a surprise to the minerals industry.

Mitchell joined Albemarle after it bought smaller rival Rockwood Holdings in 2015.

Albemarle rival Orocobre Ltd has been searching for a new chief executive, fueling speculation after news broke of Mitchell’s exit on Tuesday that he would move there.

But Mitchell is limited by a two-year non-compete contract from working for another lithium producer, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Genlith’s Chilean Colbalt is developing two mines in northern Chile.

Mitchell said in the statement that his decision to leave Albemarle was “difficult,” but added, “I look forward to building a world-class cobalt operation.” (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder)

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