A North Carolina site that was considered one of the world’s biggest lithium deposits until its closure in 1988 is slated for redevelopment at the hands of one of the frontrunners of the current lithium gold rush – and that’s just one of several developments that will put the state on the global map when it comes to lithium production.
Albemarle Corporation, which is based in Charlotte, NC, has chosen its home state as the epicenter for its operations. Here, the company hopes to develop an entirely domestic supply chain that will cater to the increasing demand for lithium in the United States for just about everything from electric vehicle manufacturing to powering smaller devices like smartphones.
At the heart of the site is Albemarle’s lithium processing plant in King’s Mountain where raw lithium from sites throughout the globe is refined into the material crucial to the rechargeable battery industry. This is flanked by the company’s research and development sector; over the way, the old open-pit mining site awaits redevelopment at the hands of Albemarle’s experts.
Poised to Grow
As it works on its North Carolina initiatives, Albemarle is poised for a major growth spurt. Within the current decade, it hopes to boost its manpower component from 1,100 employees as of this year, to over 1,800 employees who will be hired in-state.
While the state mining permit for its open-pit mine in King’s Mountain remains pending with the relevant government authorities, company executives say that they could begin draining the site – a lake around 168 feet deep – as early as the first quarter of next year. It is expected that the site could yield enough lithium ore that could be processed into at least 50,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium per year.
What is known, however, is that the US Department of Defense has granted the initiative $90 million from its critical minerals program. Also, it will augment Albemarle’s domestic mining output which, for now, comes from its only operational domestic mining site in Silver Peak, Nevada.