MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Governor Kay Ivey announced that a graphite production facility will be opening in Coosa County, making for the first United States graphite processing plant in Alabama.
The Alabama governor made the major economic development announcement during a press conference at the state capitol Tuesday morning. Westwater Resources Inc. will be opening a processing plant at the Lake Martin Industrial Park in Kellyton.
“This plant not only will make Alabama the U.S. leader in graphite production, the go-to place for this important resource in battery manufacturing, it also will elevate our standing even more as a major player in the fast-growing electric vehicle sector,” Governor Ivey said.
The new facility will provide over 100 full time job opportunities for permanent workers with an average pay rate of over $21 an hour. Westwater said its Alabama Graphite Products LLC subsidiary plans to make an initial investment of $80 million or more to build the graphite processing plant in Kellyton, near Alexander City. A second phase of the project will push the total investment to $124 million.
“We’re home to four major auto plants, and the ability to source precious materials in state for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric and hybrid vehicles will be a big plus in attracting other manufacturing jobs to the state.”
Graphite is a key component in lithium-ion batteries, as well as a conductivity enhancer for all types of batteries, including the common lead-acid batteries in traditional vehicles.
Governor Ivey signed an agreement that will provide Alabama Graphite jobs and tax credits totaling an estimated $29.9 million over 15 years with an additional $925,000 in job-training and employee recruitment incentives from the state’s primary workforce development agency, AIDT.
$4.7 million are expected to be local incentives, including tax abatements, use of 80 acres at Lake Martin Industrial Park at no cost, and a bridge will be built to provide additional access to the industrial park.
The processing plant will produce 7,500 tons of battery-grade graphite a year and will eventually expand to 15,000. The battery in an average EV needs about 175-200 pounds of graphite. To put that another way, Ford’s new electric F-150 truck, the Lightning, is expected to need roughly 450 pounds of graphite.
The full press conference can be watched in the video player above.