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Michael C. Anderson
March 29, 2023
4 Min Read
Initial rendering of Cirba Solutions’ planned South Carolina flagship facility.Image courtesy of Cirba Solutions
On a single day—March 22—two major battery materials companies, Cirba Solutions and Albemarle Corp., announced plans to build new facilities in the state of South Carolina.
On that day, Cirba Solutions, a battery materials and management company for end-of-life batteries and gigafactory scrap, announced a phase I investment of more than $300 million into a world-class, lithium-ion electric vehicle (EV) battery recycling flagship facility in South Carolina. The company is investing over $1 billion in the next five years to expand the infrastructure required to meet the growing demand for critical materials needed for EV batteries.
The over 200-acre battery materials campus is expected to create more than 300 jobs and be located near Columbia, SC, in Richland County. Groundbreaking will take place this year, with operations expected to begin in late 2024.
This will be Cirba Solutions’ eighth operational facility in North America and its fourth facility strategically located in the US ‘Battery Belt,’ an area where more than 15 new lithium-ion battery gigafactories or expansions have been announced between Michigan and Georgia since 2021. This flagship facility will bring critical battery materials to the U.S. and will focus on processing end-of-life hybrid and electric vehicle batteries, gigafactory scrap and end-of-life consumer batteries to extract critical materials, such as nickel, cobalt and lithium. These key metals will support the domestic lithium-ion battery supply chain and provide enough premium recycled, battery-grade materials to power over 500,000 EV batteries annually.
“South Carolina has worked hard to create a business environment where the electric vehicle industry can thrive, and with announcements like this it is most certainly paying off. We are proud to have Cirba Solutions as a partner as we continue to grow our already booming electric vehicle industry,” stated South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.
Albemarle to Chester Co.
On the same day, Albemarle Corporation, a provider of essential elements for mobility, energy, connectivity and health, announced plans to locate its previously announced lithium hydroxide Mega-Flex facility in Chester County, SC.
Plans for that facility include an initial investment of at least $1.3 billion to help meet the surging demand for domestic and international electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries. Construction is expected to begin late in 2024.
Pending permitting approvals, the facility will be located within a nearly 800-acre parcel. Albemarle estimates the facility will create more than 300 new jobs with an average annual wage of approximately $93,000. In addition, the project would create more than 1,500 construction jobs.
The term Mega-Flex refers to the facility's ability to process diverse lithium feedstock, including lithium from recycled batteries. Albemarle expects the facility to annually produce approximately 50,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide from multiple sources, with the potential to expand up to 100,000 metric tons. Production at the facility would support the manufacturing of an estimated 2.4 million electric vehicles annually.
The site also supports the Inflation Reduction Act, a federal law enacted in 2022 to incentivize the localization of critical minerals in North America.
“Today's announcement is positively electric news for the Palmetto State,” stated a presumably busy and delighted Governor McMaster:
“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 [sic] are producing strategically critical material vital to the lithium-ion batteries that power everything from electric vehicles to medical devices.”
Redwood Materials and Envision AESC also coming to South Carolina
These two facilities join two other battery makers that in late 2022 announced their own plans to build new facilities in the Palmetto State.
In December, battery-component recycler and builder Redwood Materials announced it would build its own $3.5 billion EV battery plant on a site near Charleston, SC. That facility will manufacture EV battery cathodes and anodes out of recycled battery materials. The facility, scheduled to break ground in the first half of 2023, will be on more than 600 acres, creating more than 1,500 jobs and investing $3.5 billion in the local community. Redwood expects it to be up and running by the end of this year.
And, also in December, McMaster and Japanese battery maker Envision AESC announced plans to build a state-of-the-art battery cell gigafactory in Florence County, SC. Located in an 870-acre Technology and Commerce Park in Florence, the plant will encompass approximately 1.5 million square feet. The $810 million investment will create 1,170 new jobs and will support Envision’s multi-year partnership with BMW Group.
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