The project reflects Albemarle’s growing strategy of paving the way for the American lithium renaissance, the production of the metal used to make high – quality EV batteries from mining development to processing.
Eric Norris, head of Albemarle’s lithium division, said the company has seen a major shift in the number of “unprecedented” EV plants in the United States over the past nine months, indicating a sharp increase in the number of EV plants the company trusts. Fuel for lithium is required.
As a result, the company plans to build a processing plant with an annual capacity of 100,000 tons in the southeastern United States, somewhere within rail distance of a large port, Norris said.
“There is still not enough (lithium) supply to meet American aspirations,” Norris told a FastMarket lithium supply and battery raw materials conference in Phoenix, Arizona. “This (processing plant) will be essential to our success.”
Albemarle has been in active discussions with automakers about buying shares from the facility, Norris said. Albemarle already offers Tesla Inc and many other major automakers.
Although Albemarle has spoken vaguely about building a US processing plant in the past, it used the conference on Monday to announce the specific plan and said it would play a key role as the company aims to increase its total lithium production capacity to five times that of 500,000 tonnes a year. By 2030
The US plant will have a similar design to the Alpemarle processing plant recently opened in Kmerton, Western Australia, although its price should be lower than Kmerton’s, with its initial target of $ 1.2 billion, Norris said.
Although the U.S. Department of Energy may apply for the loan, Albemarle plans to fund the facility.
The plant will be powered by lithium extracted from the company’s Kings Mountain mine in North Carolina, which is not currently in service, but may reopen in 2027.
The Kings Mountain plant could compete with a planned lithium mining and processing complex in the Piedmont Lithium Inc. area of nearby North Carolina, which faces opposition from regulatory and local authorities.
Unlike the Piedmont mine, Norris expects Kings Mountain to reopen a factory that closed in the 1980s and make a difference in favor of Albemarlake.
“This is a mine in a city that is very focused on mining,” Norris said. “We are very present in the community.”
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