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Plant expansion gives Louisiana role in battery supply chain

February 15, 2022 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A planned expansion of a graphite processing facility near the Mississippi River will give Louisiana an important role in the supply chain for electric vehicle batteries, state economic officials said Tuesday.

Australia-based Syrah Technologies plans a $176,000 expansion of its facility in Vidalia, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Baton Rouge. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office said Syrah will retain 19 employees and create 36 new jobs with average annual salaries of $69,000, plus benefits.

In December, electric vehicle maker Tesla signed a contract with Syrah Technologies’ parent company, Syrah Resources. Tesla will buy material from the Syrah plant in Vidalia, which sources graphite from Syrah Resources’ graphite mine in Mozambique, reducing the car maker’s dependence on China.

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The state economic development agency said in a news release that Syrah will add 180,000 square feet (16,723 square meters) to its 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) facility, where graphite will be made into “active anode material” used in lithium-ion batteries.

“Today’s announcement by Syrah Technologies is another example of how Louisiana’s commitment to a cleaner energy future can strengthen our economy,” Edwards said in the release. “This is just the beginning of Louisiana’s efforts to help vehicle manufacturers leverage our state’s unique logistical advantages to meet increasing electric car and truck demand.”