March 22 (Reuters) – Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) said on Wednesday it would invest at least $1.3 billion in its new lithium hydroxide plant in Chester County, South Carolina, to help meet growing demand for batteries that power electric vehicles.
Lithium prices have surged over the past year with automakers seeking fresh supplies of the battery metal as they build out fleets of all-electric vehicles.
Albemarle has also been marketing lithium for use in other markets, including lubricants, glass and tires.
The company said it expects the South Carolina facility to annually produce about 50,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide, with the potential to double the output.
The facility is expected to aid the production of about 2.4 million electric vehicles annually, Albemarle said.
The site is aligned with the Inflation Reduction Act that incentivizes the localization of critical minerals in North America.
Albemarle is among the 20 manufacturing and processing companies receiving U.S. Energy Department grants to domestically mine lithium, graphite and nickel, build the first large-scale lithium processing facility in the country, construct facilities to build cathodes and other battery parts, and expand battery recycling.
Construction is expected to begin late in 2024, Albemarle said in a statement.
Reporting by Sourasis Bose and Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Vinay Dwivedi
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