Westwater to start construction of graphite plant in Alabama in 2021
(Kitco News) - Westwater Resources (NYSE American: WWR) announced today that the company's officials joined Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and other state and local leaders at a press conference in Montgomery today to announce the governor's signing of incentives agreements that will bring a first-of-its kind, advanced graphite processing plant to the state.
According to the company's statement, the plant will be built in the Kellyton area in Coosa County, near Alexander City, by Westwater, which is a Colorado-based mineral resources company committed to exploring and developing materials for clean, sustainable energy production.
"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," 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 used as the anode in lithium-ion batteries, as well as a conductivity enhancer for all types of batteries, including the common lead-acid batteries in traditional vehicles.
Westwater said it plans to make an initial investment of $80 million or more (with a second phase pushing the total to $124 million) in the graphite processing plant. Construction is expected to begin later this year, with the plant operating by the end of 2022.
The agreements signed by the governor will provide the project with jobs and tax credits under the Alabama Jobs Acts, totaling up to an estimated $29.9 million over 15 years. In addition, Alabama Industrial Development and Training will provide Alabama Graphite Products up to $925,000 in job-training and employee recruitment incentives.
Westwater's processing plant will produce approximately 7,500 tons of battery-grade graphite a year initially, eventually expanding to 15,000 tons.