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Tesla eyes Texas for potential lithium refinery location

The potential plant would process and refine lithium hydroxide for use in Tesla's battery manufacturing facilities.

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With the cost of materials such as lithium hydroxide skyrocketing in recent years, and products that use lithium batteries including electric vehicles, Tesla is currently looking into whether or not it’d be possible to establish its own lithium hydroxide refining facility in Texas.

With this plant, Tesla aims to develop “battery-grade lithium hydroxide” and be “the first of its kind in North America” to do so, as noted in a letter sent to the Texas Comptroller’s Office and by outlets like CNBC.

In taking raw ore material and refining it into lithium hydroxide at its own plant, Tesla would have a more direct source of lithium hydroxide to send to its various battery manufacturing facilities, and would likely save quite a bit of money in the process. To emphasize this, in a tracking index from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, it was reported that the price of lithium had gone up a whopping 120 percent this year alone.

Scientist in lab analyzing a sample of lithium hydroxide monohydrate.
© AMG/GEA

Tesla also noted that it’s considering “other battery materials processing, refining, and manufacturing, and ancillary manufacturing operations in support of Tesla’s sustainable product line” as well. With this, Tesla would be able to do far more with the plant than simply refining lithium hydroxide.

That said, Tesla is still “evaluating the feasibility of this project” with only “preliminary development activities” having been started thus far. The location hasn’t been finalized either, with Tesla reportedly eyeing another potential site in Louisiana. To commit to a Texas location, Tesla has stated the project would only be viable if Texas were able to provide “relief regarding local property taxes.”

According to Tesla, the plant could end up being located “anywhere with access to the Gulf Coast shipping channel.” Should Tesla’s application be approved, it would be allowed to begin construction of the facility in Q4 2022, with the project reaching “commercial operations” by Q4 2024.

For more on Tesla, be sure to brush up on Musk talking about Tesla increasing FSD prices by 25 percent, and Tesla threatening to sue a critic over ads showing its cars mowing down child-sized mannequins.

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Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

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