Albemarle to build $180m US lithium research centre

Albemarle will convert a former IBM and Flextronics facility in Charlotte, North Carolina’s University City (pictured) into a lithium research centre.(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

The world’s top lithium supplier Albemarle (NYSE: ALB) will invest at least $180 million to build a new technology park in North Carolina, United States, where it expects to advance its research in lithium and other products.

The miner expects that innovations from the new site, to be located in Charlotte’s University City area, will improve lithium recovery and production methods, as well as introduce new forms of lithium to enable breakthrough levels of battery performance.

“Albemarle Technology Park is part of our mine-to-market innovation strategy to invest in the US EV battery supply chain and to be a leader in advanced lithium materials for next-generation energy storage,” chief executive officer, Kent Masters, said in the statement.

The company noted it had received a nearly $13-million incentive package from the State of North Carolina to build the research centre by transforming a former IBM and Flextronics facility. 

The lithium giant anticipates creating at least 200 jobs at the site, with an average salary of $94,000 per year. It also untends to triple the number of Ph.D. professionals in the Albemarle Technology Park (ATP.

The facility is part of Albemarle’s emerging strategy to lead the booming US lithium sector, from mine development to processing to manufacturing types of the metal used to make the batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs).

The company expects initial occupancy of the new facility by early 2025 and completion of the ATP campus by late 2026.

Albemarle has been working this year on opening new facilities to process mined lithium into the chemicals needed for batteries and it’s on track to more than double conversion capacity from last year.

While Australia and Chile account for the majority of mined lithium supply, China has more than half of all refining capacity. 

Governments including the US and Canada‘s, are trying to boost local capacity to stop China’s processing and manufacturing dominance. Still, it costs twice as much to build refining capacity in Australia and North America than it does in China.

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