Albemarle to build lithium refinery in the USA
The American chemical company Albemarle is planning to build a huge new lithium processing plant with an annual capacity of 100,000 tonnes in the southeast of the USA. The exact location has not yet been determined, but it should preferably be near a large port.
This was announced by Eric Norris, head of Albemarle’s lithium division, at a conference, according to a Reuters report. The new plant would more than double Albemarle’s lithium processing capacity-it would be larger than all previous plants combined, Norris said. The plans are “a bet on America’s all-electric future,” he said.
“There isn’t enough (lithium) supply yet to supply the ambitions of the U.S.,” Norris told the Fastmarkets Lithium Supply and Battery Raw Materials conference in Phoenix, Arizona. “This (processing plant) will be essential for our success in the future.”
The plan, according to Norris, is for the new plant to be similar in design to that lithium refining plant Albemarle is currently building in Western Australia. With one difference: the new plant should be significantly cheaper, as the Australian Kemerton project has already exceeded its budget of 1.2 billion US dollars.
Albemarle is already in talks with car manufacturers about deliveries from the new plant. However, names are not mentioned in the report. It is known that Albemarle already supplies Tesla as well as several other major carmakers.
The plant would be supplied with lithium extracted from the company’s Kings Mountain mine in North Carolina. This is currently idle but could reopen in 2027. Overall, Albemarle aims to increase its lithium production capacity fivefold to 500,000 tonnes a year by 2030.
Last year, Albemarle had announced an increase in capacity at its lithium production plant in Silver Peak in the US state of Nevada.