Alabama Secures First U.S. Graphite Processing Plant
June 23, 2021 Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Tuesday the state would be the site of the first graphite processing plant in the nation.
According to a news release from the governor's website, the state will invest nearly $125 million into the processing plant. The plant, which will be built and operated by Colorado-based Westwater Resources, Inc., will employ "at least 100 full-time, permanent workers" and will pay an average hourly wage of $21.15.
“This plant not only will make Alabama the U.S. leader in graphite production, the go-to place for this important resource in battery manufacturing, it also will elevate our standing even more as a major player in the fast-growing electric vehicle sector,” Governor Ivey said. “We’re home to four major auto plants, and the ability to source precious materials in state for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric and hybrid vehicles will be a big plus in attracting other manufacturing jobs to the state.”
Graphite is an essential component in the lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, as well as a conductivity enhancer for all batteries. The plant is expected to produce 7,500 tons of battery-grade graphite a year initially and will eventually expand to 15,000 tons. The new Ford Lightning electric truck is expected to require around 450 pounds of graphite per unit.
Officials plan to have the plant operating by the end of 2022 with mining operations beginning within the decade.
Image: Office of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey