A series of massive investments from Albemarle and Cirba Solutions is set to make South Carolina a hotbed for lithium battery production.
With the exponential growth in demand for electric vehicles, the need for lithium-ion batteries to fuel them has grown in parallel. This has provoked many automakers to invest in battery production and even lithium extraction as they look to ramp production dramatically in the coming years. Now, South Carolina has become a hotbed for lithium-ion battery production, thanks to two massive investments from 2 separate leaders in the battery industry.
The first and significantly larger investment comes from Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium extraction and refining company, which has announced today that it will be investing $1.3 billion into a new lithium refining facility in the state. Construction of the facility will begin sometime in 2024, and once open, the facility will be able to refine 50,000 tonnes of lithium annually. Albemarle plans to supply the facility with lithium from recycled batteries and hard-rock lithium mined in its home state, North Carolina.
Albemarle’s massive South Carolina push comes amid a squeeze on lithium generally, with many corporations looking to enter the extraction and refining business in the coming years, including one prominent Albemarle customer, Tesla.
Tesla is also well on its way toward establishing a lithium refining facility, and has reportedly even gone as far as considering purchasing a Brazilian lithium mining company.
The second significant investment announced today is from Cirba Solutions, a North American battery recycler hoping to establish another recycling plant in South Carolina. Investing a total of $300 million, Cirba’s newest facility will focus on extracting and recycling lithium, cobalt, and nickel, all of which are materials that have received significant criticism for their extraction from the ground.
The new recycling facility, set to begin construction in the second half of 2024, is the second Cirba has announced recently. The first, which has received $75 million in government backing, is being placed in northern Ohio.
These new facilities are just two of many being established in what is being called “America’s Battery Belt.” This area, stretching from South Carolina and Georgia in the south all the way to Wisconsin and New York in the North, is being filled with numerous facilities from other battery industry leaders, including a strong contingent of South Korean companies; LG, SK On, and others, as well as newer startups like LiCycle in Upstate New York.
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