Tesla’s lithium refinery, which CEO Elon Musk called a “money-printing machine,” is now expected to come online sooner than anticipated.
In September 2022, we learned that Tesla has a plan to build a lithium refining facility on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
The goal of the new plant is to produce lithium hydroxide to support Tesla’s own battery cell production at Gigafactory Texas in Austin.
The company also wants to prove its own new lower-cost processing system. If successful, it could be adopted by the rest of the industry and facilitate the deployment of new lithium processing capacity, which is badly needed to support electric vehicle growth.
Tesla previously confirmed that it planned to invest $365 million in the lithium plant, which would employ about 165 people full-time plus another 250 construction jobs for about two years.
During a groundbreaking ceremony in May, CEO Elon Musk said that the factory would produce enough battery-grade lithium to build about 1 million electric vehicles per year.
The company updated the timeline to construction being finished next year and achieving production in 2025.
Now we receive an update thanks to Tesla sr. manager of operations, Jason Bevan, who spoke to local media in Texas during a fair to recruit for the plant.
Bevan said that Tesla now plans to commission the assets in the first half of 2024 and ramp up during the second half of the year:
We will begin commissioning the assets, roughly the first of next year, and that will continue, in earnest, over the first half of next year. They will start ramping up production the latter half of next year.
The manager added that he could see Tesla expanding beyond its original plan with this refinery on the coast:
We have property that is well-suited for a future expansion, beyond these first two trains, so I think there is ample opportunity for further economic impact beyond just those direct employees that we hire.
We will be keeping a close eye on this project as it could greatly increase the lithium processing capacity in North America, which is currently limited.
Tesla’s lithium refining facility in Texas is expected to come online earlier than anticipated. The facility, which aims to produce lithium hydroxide to support Tesla’s battery cell production at Gigafactory Texas, also aims to prove its own new lower-cost processing system. Tesla plans to invest $365 million in the plant and employ about 165 people full-time, with construction jobs for about two years. The facility is expected to produce enough battery-grade lithium to build approximately 1 million electric vehicles per year. Tesla’s sr. manager of operations, Jason Bevan, announced that the assets will be commissioned in the first half of 2024 and production will ramp up in the second half of the year. He also mentioned the possibility of future expansion beyond the initial plan. The project could greatly increase lithium processing capacity in North America, which is currently limited.