South Carolina Becomes Battery Hotbed with $1.6B in Investments


With the growth in demand for EVs, the need for lithium-ion batteries to fuel them has also grown, provoking many automakers to invest in battery production and lithium extraction as they look to ramp production dramatically in the coming years. Now, South Carolina has become a hotbed for lithium-ion battery production, thanks to massive investments from two leaders in the battery industry.

The first and significantly larger investment comes from Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium extraction and refining company, which announced it will invest $1.3 billion into a new lithium refining facility in the state. Construction of the facility will begin sometime in 2024, and once open, the facility will be able to refine 50,000 tonnes of lithium annually. Albemarle plans to supply the facility with lithium from recycled batteries and hard-rock lithium mined in its home state of North Carolina.

Albemarle’s massive South Carolina push comes amid a squeeze on lithium generally, with many corporations looking to enter the extraction and refining business in the coming years, including one prominent Albemarle customer, Tesla.

Tesla is also well on its way toward establishing a lithium refining facility, and is reportedly considering purchasing a Brazilian lithium mining company.

The second significant investment announced is from Cirba Solutions, a North American battery recycler hoping to establish another recycling plant in South Carolina. Investing a total of $300 million, Cirba’s newest facility will focus on extracting and recycling lithium, cobalt and nickel, all of which have received significant criticism for how they are extracted from the ground.

The new recycling facility, set to begin construction in the second half of 2024, is the second Cirba announced recently. The first, which has received $75 million in government backing, is being built in northern Ohio.

These new facilities are just two of many being established in what is being called “America’s Battery Belt.” This area, stretching from South Carolina and Georgia to Wisconsin and New York, is filling up with facilities from other battery industry leaders, including a strong contingent of South Korean companies like LG, SK On and others, as well as newer startups like LiCycle in Upstate New York.

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