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Graphite One selects Ohio for refinery

Metal Tech News - March 20, 2024

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Graphite One's plans to build a graphite process and lithium battery materials recycling facility is transforming a former critical minerals stockpile site in Ohio to Voltage Valley for the EV revolution.

Secures former critical minerals stockpile site to build graphite processing and battery materials recycling plant.

Graphite One Inc. plans to transform a former national defense critical minerals stockpile site in Ohio into a domestic source of the graphite anode material going into the lithium-ion batteries powering electric vehicles and storing renewable energy.

"Graphite One is delighted to announce that, subject to financing, we will be building our advanced graphite material processing plant in northeast Ohio as the region emerges as a major electric vehicle hub," said Graphite One President and CEO Anthony Huston.

The processing plant in Ohio is one part of the company's larger strategy to establish a complete advanced graphite materials supply chain in the United States that will also include a mine at its Graphite Creek project in western Alaska.

Graphite One originally investigated the potential of developing a facility in Washington state to process graphite concentrates from Alaska but has now opted to build the graphite processing and battery materials recycling plant nearer to the automakers that need the EV battery materials the company will produce.

Need for U.S. graphite supply

Having an all-American supply of graphite anode material in Ohio is expected to be a welcome site to U.S. automakers seeking reliable and Inflation Reduction Act-compliant sources of this lithium-ion battery material.

Roughly 115 pounds of graphite goes into the battery pack of the average-sized passenger EV. Larger models, like the GMC Hummer EV, require up to 500 pounds.

As the primary anode material, graphite accounts for an average of around 28% of all the materials that go into lithium-ion batteries for EVs and clean energy storage.

Even though consumer enthusiasm for EVs has cooled somewhat, analysts continue to forecast that global graphite demand will reach 5 to 6 million metric tons per year by 2030. This is more than three times the 1.6 million metric tons mined globally during 2023, according to the latest data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

What makes this situation even more precarious for American automakers looking for the materials needed for their transition to EVs is there are currently no graphite mines in the U.S.-China accounted for 77% of all mined graphite and nearly 90% of graphite anode materials produced globally in 2023.

Adding further to the uncertainty of supply, China emplaced state-controlled restrictions on the exports of graphite in December.

To help meet the urgent demand for domestic supply as early as possible, Graphite One will first develop its Ohio processing plant, which will manufacture synthetic graphite anode active materials while the company completes permitting and development of a mine in Alaska.

"With the U.S. currently not producing any natural and synthetic anode materials, Graphite One has formulated a fast-track path-to-production strategy jump-starting our battery anode material production," Huston said earlier this year.

Energizing Voltage Valley

Graphite One's jumpstart of an all-American graphite supply chain will happen at a newly leased site in Niles, Ohio, roughly midway between Cleveland and Pittsburg.

"Ohio is the perfect home for the second link in our strategy to build a 100% U.S.-based advanced graphite supply chain – from mining to refining to recycling. The U.S, simply cannot maintain a 21st century tech-driven economy without critical minerals like graphite," said Huston.

As the home to a former national defense critical minerals storage facility, the industrial site is well connected to road, rail, and barging infrastructure in the heart of America's emerging EV production center.

"On a historical note, it's great to come full circle, this site also known as the old Warren Depot included graphite in the National Defense Stockpile more than 30 years ago, the last time the U.S. actually mined graphite," the Graphite One CEO added.

The site also already has ample low-cost and renewable energy available to power the 25,000-ton-per-year initial phase of synthetic graphite materials production.

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The former critical minerals stockpile site where the Graphite One processing and recycling plant has ready access to road, rail, barges, affordable energy, and America's emerging EV sector.

The company has secured a 50-year lease with an option to purchase the 85-acre industrial site and a right-of-first-refusal to lease or acquire up to 30 acres adjacent to the site. This provides ample room to expand production to 100,000 tons per day and establish a battery materials recycling facility at the former national critical minerals stockpile site that has now been rebranded as "Voltage Valley."

It is estimated that it will cost $435 million to build the initial 25,000-ton-per-year facility.

"With manufacturing being one of Ohio's largest economic drivers, I am proud to see this new U.S.-based advanced graphite supply chain in Niles," said Congressman Dave Joyce, R-Ohio. "This new project will bring over 160 jobs and spur even more economic growth in the area."

Subject to financing and permitting requirements, Graphite One plans to build the initial phase of the processing plant by late 2025, with phase-one production of 25,000 metric tons of synthetic anode material by sometime in 2026.

At the same time, the company is continuing to advance a feasibility study for Graphite Creek with the goal of getting the Alaska mine project through permitting and development in time to begin feeding American-mined graphite to the Ohio plant around the end of the decade, which aligns with expected growth in demand for this critical lithium-ion battery material.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

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Over his more than 16 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.


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