Progress in the lithium refinery project
In retrospect, Tesla announced plans to erect a lithium refinery on the Gulf Coast of Texas in September. The only information known at the time was that Tesla intends to begin construction in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Tesla specifically stated in the application that this new plant’s output would be lithium hydroxide, suitable for use in batteries.
“The final product, battery-grade lithium hydroxide, will be packaged and shipped by truck and rail to various Tesla battery manufacturing sites supporting the necessary supply chain for large-scale and electric vehicle batteries.”
According to a local news station KIII TV report, the Nueces County Commissioners agreed unanimously to push the negotiations between county officials and Tesla to the executive. It indicates that the negotiations will be held in private.
Furthermore, it has been reported that they are collaborating with the automaker on tax exemptions for a property close to Robstown, Texas.
Barbara Canales, the judge for Nueces County, said:
“You don’t typically, put your lawyer on camera to give you legal advice that you’re supposed to listen to that helps you formulate your opinion. Because you’re negotiating with the other.”
Tesla to invest $365 million and generate many jobs
Additionally, it emerged from the negotiations that Tesla will spend around $365 million on the lithium plant. Around 165 full-time employments are anticipated to be created, in addition to 250 construction positions for roughly two years.
In their project description, Tesla stated that it is aimed at the “development of a battery-grade lithium hydroxide refining facility, the first of its kind in North America, as well as facilities to support other types of battery materials processing, refining, and manufacturing and ancillary manufacturing operations in support of Tesla’s sustainable product line.”
The automaker further boasts that their project will have less of an environmental impact than existing methods of lithium refining:
“Tesla will process raw ore material into a usable state for battery production. The process Tesla will use is innovative and designed to consume less hazardous reagents and create usable byproducts compare to the conventional process.”
More improvements to come
Tesla provided the following set of improvements it intends to make to the plant:
- supporting infrastructure and lithium refining equipment
- operation buildings
- laboratory for R&D (research and development) and quality controls
- new access roadways
- parking lots
- loading docks
- logistics facilities
- process warehouse and maintenance buildings
- utility distribution improvements, including underground utility piping
- structural foundations
- electrical substations
- rail spur for use exclusive to this project
- cooling towers
- fire prevention equipment
- safety equipment
- stormwater management facilities
- waste management facilities
- wastewater treatment infrastructure
There are 27.8 million people living in Texas. Apart from that, a 4,000-mile border with Mexico runs through the state. It is not surprising that the state is a top site for manufacturing, given the secure border and abundant resources. Additionally, it has competent labor and is close to Tesla’s other production facilities.
The lithium sector has a very promising financial future. As CEO Elon Musk once said, lithium refining is a “license to print money.”