Elon Musk and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott break ground on Tesla lithium refinery

Tesla plans to build a facility that will help it secure a domestic supply of lithium hydroxide for batteries.

Elon Musk and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott break ground on Tesla lithium refinery

Important Points

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, was joined by Texas Governor Greg Abbott for the groundbreaking ceremony. According to documents filed with the Texas Comptroller, Tesla intends to invest $375 millions to build the facility.

Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott broke ground with the new lithium refinery of Tesla in Corpus Christi Monday.

Tesla will invest $375m to build a facility on the Gulf Coast that will allow it to secure domestic supplies of lithium hydroxide. This is a key ingredient in the production of batteries for electric vehicles and home and utility scale batteries.

Musk stated that Tesla aims to produce at its refinery enough battery-grade Lithium to produce one million cars per year and more than all of North America’s combined refining capacity.

Albemarle, a mining company in South Carolina, announced in March that it would invest $1.3 billion into a new facility for processing lithium.

According to filings made with the Texas Comptroller’s Office, Tesla plans to build a "battery grade lithium hydroxide refinery" and "other facilities to support other types battery materials processing and refining, manufacturing, and ancillary production operations to support Tesla's sustainable products line."

In its filings, the company claimed that "the Tesla process is innovative, designed to use less hazardous reagents while creating usable byproducts as compared to a conventional process."

Musk said on Monday that "there are no toxic emissions, and you can live in the middle the refinery without any adverse effects."

Turner Caldwell is Tesla's raw material and recycling manager. He said that the company will find "beneficial uses" for its by-product, which is expected to be mainly sand or limestone.

In general, the industrial process of refining ore to battery-grade Lithium involves crushing the raw material at high temperatures, mixing it with acids in a slurry, and heating it. Hydrochloric acid is one of the most common acids used to process lithium. It is classified as a hazardous air pollution under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Caldwell and Musk didn't disclose which specific chemistry would be used by the company for processing.

Musk stated in April of last year that Tesla might need to start refining lithium because its price had "gone insane levels." Since he made these remarks, lithium prices have dropped significantly.

China controls over half of the world’s processing and refining capacities for lithium, while the U.S. recently only controlled 1%. Musk stated that the availability of battery grade lithium is a "fundamental choking point" for the electric car industry and other industries.

Elon Musk, the world's greatest entrepreneur, was hailed by Governor Abbott, who is a Republican.

He said, "Texas is looking to become self-reliant and not rely on any hostile foreign nation to provide what it needs."