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SK On & Westwater Resources to Develop Anode Materials

The Joint Development Agreement aims to produce North American-sourced anode materials for SK On batteries.

Posted by Staff

May 8, 2023

2 Min Read
SK On and Westwater Resources have signed an agreement to develop anode materials tailored to batteries produced at SK On’s US plants. Westwater’s Kellyton Graphite Processing Plant, pictured here, is under construction in Alabama.Image courtesy of SK On

Korea-based electric vehicle battery manufacturer SK On has announced it has signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with US graphite company Westwater Resources Inc. as part of efforts to strengthen its battery raw material supply chain in North America following the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The partnership is part of SK On’s efforts to diversify its supply chain and support a growing US manufacturing base.

Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop environmentally responsible, high-performance anode materials tailored for SK On batteries. Should the project end with successful results, SK On will consider an option of sourcing Westwater's anode materials for use at its battery manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

SK On currently operates two EV battery plants in Commerce, GA. The South Korean battery maker is also building three EV battery plants in the US with Ford Motor Co. BlueOval SK, the joint venture between SK On and Ford, plans to operate two battery plants in Glendale, KY, and one factory in Stanton, TN.

SK On recently agreed with Hyundai Motor Group to establish an EV battery plant in Bartow County, GA, through a joint venture.

Established in 1977, Westwater Resources is an energy technology company focused on developing US-based battery-grade natural graphite anode materials. Headquartered in Centennial, Colorado, the company holds mineral rights to explore and potentially mine the Coosa Graphite Deposit that is located across 42,000 acres in Coosa County, Alabama.

Westwater is currently building a graphite processing plant in Kellyton, AL. The first phase of plant construction will produce 7,500 metric tons of refined graphite each year.

North American anode materials

Anode is one of the four main components for lithium-ion batteries along with cathode, electrolyte and separator. It determines the battery life and charging speed. Currently, graphite is the dominating anode material in commercial lithium-ion batteries.

The latest US partnership with Westwater paves the way for sourcing anode materials in North America in the future as part of SK On's efforts to diversify its supply chain with the goal of taking advantage of provisions with the IRA.

“SK On has been pursuing strategic partnerships to secure high-quality battery raw materials to support our growing U.S. manufacturing base,” stated Sun Heeyoung, SK On Vice President in charge of advanced research. “With this agreement, we will continue to look for options that can strengthen our materials supply chain in North America and ensure we can help meet the increasing demand for electric vehicles in the US.”

“The JDA with SK On is another major advancement in Westwater's graphite business, and we are extremely excited to partner with a leading global battery manufacturer,” stated Terence Cryan, Westwater's Executive Chairman. “Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, many battery manufacturers have sought to secure North American anode material from our Kellyton plant.”

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