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Exploring how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

Two new EV battery-related plants are coming to South Carolina

New factories planned in South Carolina will recycle batteries from electric cars when they reach the end of their lives.
David Boraks
/
WFAE
New factories planned in South Carolina will recycle batteries from electric cars when they reach the end of their lives.

Two new factories announced Wednesday in South Carolina will continue the expansion of electric vehicle supply chain businesses in the Carolinas.

Charlotte-based Albemarle Corporation says it will spend $1.3 billion to build a new lithium processing facility on 800 acres in Chester County, about 40 miles south of Charlotte. Albemarle says the plant will hire 300 people to process lithium from its mines around the world or from recycled batteries. Construction could begin in 2024.

Meanwhile, Charlotte-based Cirba Solutions announced plans for a $300 million factory at an industrial park near Columbia that will also create 300 jobs. The plant will extract lithium and other metals from used hybrid and electric vehicle batteries for recycling into new batteries.

As sales of electric vehicles keep rising, so is the demand for lithium and other critical minerals. That has prompted development of an industry to recycle all those used batteries when vehicles reach the end of their lives. Other battery recycling and component factories have been announced recently near Charleston and Spartanburg.

Albemarle's announcement was its second in recent months. In December, the company said it would build a $200 million lithium research center in northeast Charlotte.

"This facility will help us increase the supply of U.S.-based lithium resources to fuel the clean energy revolution," CEO Kent Masters said in a video statement. "We wanted a location that had access to nearby rail and port transportation and the availability of skilled workers. We also had an opportunity to be closer to our customers as our supply chain is built out in North America."

Cirba said its plant will extract lithium and other metals from hybrid and electric vehicle batteries for recycling into new batteries. The company said the plant will supply enough recycled battery-grade metal salts every year for 500,000 electric vehicle batteries.

Cirba said its planned factory in the Pineview Industrial Park in Columbia is part of a planned $1 billion investment in battery recycling to meet growing demand for critical materials for EV lithium-ion batteries. The company has seven other factories in North America and the fourth in what it calls the north-south "battery belt" from Michigan to the South.

Both Albemarle and Cirba got job development tax credits from the state of South Carolina. And local governments got money to help with site work and infrastructure. Chester County got $9 million for the Albemarle project. Richland County got $3 million related to the Cirba project.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.