Department of Defense enters agreement to expand domestic lithium mining
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Industrial Base Policy, through its Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization (MCEIP) office, entered an agreement with Albemarle Corporation to support the expansion of domestic mining and production of lithium.
The $90 million agreement, entered into under Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III authorities and utilizing funds appropriated by the Inflation Reduction Act, will help support Albemarle's planned re-opening of their Kings Mountain, N.C. lithium mine to increase domestic production of lithium for the nation's battery supply chain.
The planned Kings Mountain mine contains one of the few known hard rock lithium deposits in the U.S. The site is expected to feed sufficient material for 50 kt (55,000 st) LCE of conversion capacity and support the manufacturing initially of approximately 1.2 million electric vehicles annually.
“As one of the only U.S.-based lithium companies to carry out lithium extraction, processing, and novel lithium battery material research in the United States, Albemarle is uniquely positioned to help power the clean energy revolution,” Albemarle's President of Energy Storage, Eric Norris said in a statement. “Lithium is an essential ingredient in our sustainable energy future. Demand is expected to increase significantly, and it is imperative to secure our nation’s supply of this critical resource.”
Albemarle estimates that Kings Mountain will become operational as early as late 2026, pending permitting. At Kings Mountain, Albemarle is implementing Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance "IRMA-Ready" standards – an operational playbook for mine sites in exploration phase. IRMA standards emphasize environmental stewardship and community engagement.
“The agreement with Albemarle demonstrates the DoD’s ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of our warfighter, today and in the future,” said Anthony Di Stasio, MCEIP Director. “This investment directly supports President Biden's April 2022 Presidential Determination for Critical Materials in Large-Capacity Batteries.”
This agreement represents the continuation of the MCEIP five-year investment plan to secure supply chains for minerals and materials critical to the DoD and the commercial sector. The DoD is committed to continuing to work with industry to ensure the continued availability of these essential resources.
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy is the principal advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD(A&S)) for developing Department of Defense policies for the maintenance of the United States defense industrial base (DIB), executing small business programs and policy, and conduction geo-economic analysis and assessments. The office also provides the USD(A&S) with recommendations on budget matters related to the DIB, anticipates and closes gaps in manufacturing capabilities for defense systems, and assesses impacts related to mergers, acquisition, and divestitures. IBP monitors and assesses the impact of foreign investments in the United States and executes authorities under sections 2501 and 2505 U.S.C. Title 10.