South Korean battery maker SK On has entered into an agreement with Westwater Resources for materials for its automotive batteries.
Westwater is at work on a graphite processing facility in Kellyton in Coosa County.
SK On says the move is “part of efforts to strengthen its battery raw material supply chain in North America following the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act.”
The Korean firm has two EV battery plants in Georgia and is building more, including one to support Hyundai’s operations in Montgomery.
In announcing the deal, the battery maker said, “Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop environmentally responsible, high-performance anode materials tailored for SK On batteries. Should the project end with successful results, SK On will consider an option of sourcing Westwater’s anode materials for use at its battery manufacturing facilities in the U.S.”
Colorado-based Westwater’s graphite processing plant, under construction in Kellyton, is expected to produce 7,500 metric tons of refined graphite per year.
Lithium-ion batteries are made up primarily of anode, cathode, electrolyte and separator elements, SK On says, noting that graphite is currently the dominant anode material in commercial lithium-ion batteries.
“SK On has been pursuing strategic partnerships to secure high-quality battery raw materials to support our growing U.S. manufacturing base,” said Sun Heeyoung, SK On vice president in charge of advanced research. “With this agreement, we will continue to look for options that can strengthen our materials supply chain in North America and ensure we can help meet the increasing demand for electric vehicles in the U.S.”
Westwater Executive Chairman Terence Cryan added, “The JDA with SK On is another major advancement in Westwater’s graphite business, and we are extremely excited to partner with a leading global battery manufacturer. Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, many battery manufacturers have sought to secure North American anode material from our Kellyton plant.”