Charlotte-based Albemarle plans to invest $1.3 billion in a lithium processing plant in Chester County, South Carolina, about 30 miles south of the North Carolina border. About 300 jobs, with an average wage of $93,000, are expected at the 800-acre site.
It’s the latest bold move by the world’s largest lithium producer, which has big facilities in Chile, China and Australia. The new plant is expected to process 50,000 tons of lithium annually, including feedstock from sources including a mine that Albemarle is planning to reopen in Cleveland County, and material from recycled batteries.
Albemarle is undertaking mine studies, community engagement work and other evaluations before filing for permits to start the Cleveland County mine, which has been closed for decades. An unprecedented number of new electric vehicle plants have been announced in the last nine months, buoyed by massive federal subsidies approved by Congress, Albemarle noted in an emailed statement.
The company expects the Kings Mountain mine in Cleveland County to be operating by 2027, executives said on a conference call with analysts.
The company wouldn’t provide details on whether it considered North Carolina for the processing plant. It is planning a $200 million technology park in Charlotte to conduct advanced lithium research, complementing its Queen City corporate headquarters and a technical center in Kings Mountain.
South Carolina doesn’t disclose its overall incentives packages for projects.