Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed the move on Wednesday, October 19, during a conference call in response to the analyst’s question about the company’s progress in developing the new 4680 battery cell technology.
“Yes. We’re also building lithium refinery,” the CEO said.
Another Tesla executive stated that the location would be in Corpus Christi, Nueces County, which remains a potential location without Tesla’s official confirmation.
Notably, the Texas-based company has been looking into the project for months, as Bloombergreported. However, the automaker considered another site in Louisiana.
The company also told state regulators about its plan to build a battery-grade lithium hydroxide refining facility to process raw ore material into more production-ready.
According to an application sent to the Robstown Independent School District, under the state’s Chapter 313 tax incentive program, it would pack and ship battery-grade lithium hydroxide to “various Tesla battery manufacturing sites supporting the necessary supply chain for large-scale and electric vehicle baterries,”
It will be the first plant of its kind in North America and will process and refine materials used in batteries as well as lithium hydroxide.
Early construction may begin in the fourth quarter of 2022, as previously reported. Based on Musk’s statement during the earnings call, the company may have started with it. In addition, commercial operation may begin in the fourth quarter of 2024.
The company plans to invest $375 million in building the factory. It will open 250 jobs in its construction phase in the next two years, and 162 permanent jobs will be needed for further factory operation. Out of those, ten will be paying $81,000 with benefits per year, whereas the remaining positions will be paying close to the regional average of about $53,000 per year and will not be qualifying for benefits.
Lithium prices have proven to be costly in recent years. The Tesla CEO urged entrepreneurs to start lithium recycling to ease supply constraints of critical materials used in lithium-ion batteries.
While the world may be working on expanding its charging infrastructure and have set up goals, mandates, and bills to accelerate EV adoption, the industry has not gone at the pace it needs to. If the industry faces material shortage, it may prevent the production of sufficient batteries.