Albemarle to build lithium refinery in South Carolina

US speciality chemicals company Albemarle has announced the location of its new lithium processing plant in the US. The plant will be built in Chester County, South Carolina. Construction is scheduled to begin at the end of 2024.

Albemarle plans to invest a total of 1.3 billion dollars (equivalent to 1.2 billion euros) in the new plant called ‘Mega-Flex’. The name refers to its ability to process various lithium raw materials, including lithium from recycled batteries.

Albemarle says the plant will initially produce about 50,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide annually, with the ability to expand up to 100,000 tonnes later. Production at the plant is expected to support the manufacture of batteries for an estimated 2.4 million electric vehicles annually.

Subject to approvals, the plant will be built on a nearly 800-hectare site. Albemarle estimates that the plant will create more than 300 new jobs.

Albemarle had originally announced the project last summer. At the time, however, the location had not yet been determined. At the time, it was said that the new plant would be similar to the lithium refinery Albemarle is currently building in Western Australia. With one difference: the new plant is to be significantly cheaper, as the Australian Kemerton project has already exceeded its budget of 1.2 billion US dollars.

“This facility will help increase the production of U.S.-based lithium resources to fuel the clean energy revolution while bringing us closer to our customers as the supply chain is built out in North America,” said Albemarle CEO Kent Masters. “This investment supports our long-term commitment to providing innovative products and solutions that enable a more resilient world. We look forward to partnering with the state of South Carolina on this important project.”

“Albemarle’s new facility will be transformative for our state, creating thousands of good-paying jobs in South Carolina, and help us further our goals of becoming an electric vehicle hub in the United States by being home to companies like Albemarle who are producing strategically critical material vital to the lithium-ion batteries that power everything from electric vehicles to medical devices,” added South Carolina’s governor Henry McMaster.


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