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US Battery Minerals & Materials Processing

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

This is kind of a big deal.

The Energy Department awarded (October 20) $2.8 billion to 20 companies to build and/or expand commercial-scale production and processing facilities around the United States covering the extraction and processing of minerals, and the production of needed battery inputs critical to the future of US domestic battery manufacturing. Robust domestic capacity will help the US undertake a rapid and effective transition towards electric vehicles (EV) and renewable energy power storage.

Why a Big Deal?

This action is a big deal on a number of levels, most notably:

  • It is an essential step towards an EV future. The US can build a bunch of battery factories right now and, in fact, several are built or are in the process of being built, but the US simply does not currently have enough materials to produce batteries at a high volume and reasonable price to rapidly grow and sustain an EV-powered economy. For the little battery manufacturing capacity that does exist in the United States today, most inputs have to be imported.

  • Domestic capacity will strengthen US security. The lack of US production of critical minerals and related battery inputs has always been a risk to the US economy and our technology-driven defense infrastructure, but that risk is intensified with a more aggressive international posture of China, Russia, and other state actors. China is currently the world leader in the mining and processing of the world's critical minerals. In fact, most mined material outside of China is actually sent there for processing (see this recent report by the Brookings Institution).

  • A recent US industrial policy shift is reinforced. In the CHIPS and Science Act, the United States took a major policy turn in the advancement of domestic US industry, moving beyond mere tax incentives and a liberal trade regime to advance manufacturing growth, to the direct funding of more than $50 billion towards new and expanded industrial capacity. Expanding critical minerals and battery input manufacturing capacity in a comprehensive and significant way constitutes the second big action reflecting this shift. More and similar significant actions are coming soon linked to the authorities and funding of both the 2021 Infrastructure Act and the CHIPS and Science Act.

  • The awards represent an important milestone in the promise of the Infrastructure Act. Yes, $2.8 billion is a lot of money, but it is not really close to the amounts already distributed under the Act or that are coming for various purposes. This is an important milestone because it represents a significant leap into a new area of the Federal Government's infrastructure financing focus, and also because it is one of the largest, competitively-awarded grant groupings under the Act so far (versus formula grants to states already largely distributed).

Who Got the Money

So what companies are receiving awards, what will the funding be used for, and when is added capacity expected to come online? Here is a breakdown:

  • 6K (HQ: North Andover, Massachusetts). Announcement Build a manufacturing facility to demonstrate the ability to domestically produce multiple battery chemistries– namely NMC811 and lithium iron phosphate– in a plant with initial capacity of 3,000 tpa, scaling up to 10,000 tpa in 2026. Note: tpa = annual tonnes of production, or "tonnes per annum" The facility's production will start by 2025. A site has not yet been chosen, but is expected by December 2022. The company says it is looking at Southeastern US locations. _________________________

  • Albemarle U.S. (HQ: Charlotte, North Carolina). Announcement Build a lithium materials processing plant that uses lithium mined locally to process 2.7 million tpa of spodumene ore through a plant designed to produce about 350,000 tpa of spodumene concentrate. The new plant will feed a future conversion plant to produce battery grade lithium hydroxide for battery manufacturers. The location of the processing plant will be Kings Mountain, North Carolina, and a future lithium hydroxide conversion plant would be at a not-yet-identified location in the Southeastern US. Planned production start timelines for new facilities were not provided. _________________________

  • American Battery and Technology Company (HQ: Reno, Nevada). Announcement Build a commercial-scale facility to manufacture cathode-grade lithium hydroxide from "unconventional" Nevada-based lithium-bearing sedimentary resources near Tonopah, Nevada. The facility will produce 5,000 metric tpa with the potential to develop future capacity of up to 30,000 metric tpa. The company says that the processing facility will be located at the mining site in/near Tonopah. Its projected production start date was not provided. _________________________

  • Amprius Technologies (HQ: Sunnyvale, California). Announcement Demonstrate in a new facility the manufacturing of silicon nanowire anode technology including the first large scale production lines of the company's ultra-high-energy-density battery technology. Neither a location for the new facility was specified nor the timing for completing the production capacity. _________________________

  • Anovion (HQ: Chicago, Illinois). Announcement Build 35,000 tpa of new synthetic graphite anode material capacity. A new facility will be built in Colbert County, Alabama and the company says that will also expand current capacity at its Niagara Falls, New York location. The timing of new capacity was not provided. _________________________

  • Applied Materials (HQ: Santa Clara, California). Set up an advanced prelithiation and lithium anode manufacturing facility to accelerate the transition to next-generation lithium-ion batteries. The proposed facility will support industrial-scale production of advanced lithiated anodes. Specifics on the location of the new facility and the projected timing of its production were not provided. Energy's announcement suggests a North Carolina location. _________________________

  • Ascend Elements (HQ: Westborough, Massachusetts). Announcement Establish industrial scale U.S. production capacity of sustainable, low-cost precursor cathode materials by integrating the separation of critical cathode materials from spent (i.e., recycled) lithium-ion batteries with the production of both precursor cathode active materials and metal salts to support domestic production of cathode active material. A facility will be built in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Both precursor and active material projects will be executed at the Hopkinsville location over 36 months, which puts full capacity levels starting by the end of 2025. _________________________

  • Cirba Solutions (HQ: Tempe, Arizona). Announcement Expand and upgrade an existing lithium-ion recycling facility which collects, disassembles, shreds, and upgrades critical minerals from used lithium-ion batteries so that the materials can be reused to produce new lithium-ion batteries. The existing facility is in Lancaster, Ohio. A timeline for the completion of the capacity expansion/upgrades was not specified. _________________________

  • Entek (HQ: Lebanon, Oregon). Announcement Establish a new lithium battery "wet process” battery separator production plant. Neither the location of the new facility nor the timeline for its completion was specified. _________________________

  • Group14 Technologies (HQ: Woodinville, Washington). Announcement Construct a new manufacturing facility to build next-generation, silicon-carbon composite lithium-ion battery (LIB) anodes. The location of the new facility will be in Moses Lake, Washington. The completion timeline was not specified. __________________________

  • ICL-IP America (HQ: Saint Louis, Missouri). Expand an existing facility with two production lines making lithium iron phosphate cathode powder. Each production line will be able to produce up to 15,000 tpa of the material, for a total of 30,000 tpa of capacity. The existing facility is in Saint Louis, Missouri. Added production capacity will be ready in 33 months, which puts completion around mid-2025. __________________________

  • Koura (HQ: Waltham, Massachusetts). Announcement Expand an existing manufacturing facility by adding the first US manufacturing plant for lithium hexafluorophosphate. Production is expected to total 10,000 metric tpa. The existing facility is in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. The completion timeline for the new capacity was not specified. __________________________

  • Lilac Solutions (HQ: Oakland, California ). Announcement Demonstrate the production of ion-exchange technology to extract lithium economically from brines using solid ion-exchange beads, where lithium is then released using acid to produce a purified lithium stream that can be further processed into battery-grade lithium products. The announcement does not specify the amount of capacity to be added, the specific locations, or the timing, but does suggest that capacity will be added in Nevada, Utah, and California. __________________________

  • Microvast (HQ: Stafford, Texas). Expand an existing location which currently has just demonstration capacity, to a full-production specialized battery polyaramid separator manufacturing facility capable of producing up to 300 million square meters of output per year. The current facility location is Clarksville, Tennessee. The completion timeline for the new capacity was not specified. __________________________

  • Novonix Anode Materials (HQ: Chattanooga, Tennessee). Announcement Build 30,000 metric tpa of low-carbon-intensity, synthetic graphite anode material production capacity. The facility will be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The expected completion timeline was not specified. __________________________

  • Piedmont Lithium (HQ: Belmont, North Carolina). Announcement Build a new facility that delivers 30,000 metric tpa of low-carbon-intensity production capacity of lithium hydroxide. The facility will be built in Etowah, Tennessee. Production in the new facility is expected to begin during 2025. __________________________

  • Sila Nanotechnologies (HQ: Alameda, California). Build a new production facility making lithium-ion silicone anode materials. The location of the new facility will be in Moses Lake, Washington. Production will begin in 2025, with full capacity completed by 2026. __________________________

  • Solvay Specialty Polymers USA (HQ: Alpharetta, Georgia). Build a new battery-grade polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) facility. PVDF is a cathode binder and separator coating material that can help EV batteries to go farther on a charge and enhance battery durability. The facility will be built in Augusta, Georgia. The completion timeline was not specified. __________________________

  • Syrah Technologies (HQ US: Baton Rouge, Louisiana). Expand currently-planned capacity already under construction to process natural graphite from the company's Balama graphite operation in Mozambique. Planned capacity will increase from 11,250 tpa to at least 45,000 tpa. The facility under development is in Vidalia, Louisiana. Production from the facility is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2023. __________________________

  • Talon Nickel (HQ: Tamarack, Minnesota). Announcement Construct a new battery minerals processing facility to process nickel ore from "economically viable sources." The location of the new facility with be at a brownfields site in Mercer County, North Dakota but the specific location was not disclosed.



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