CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) — A North Carolina chemical company received a boost from the U.S. Department of Defense Tuesday as the Pentagon implements plans for secure supply chains and domestic sources for critical minerals.
A $90 million agreement to purchase lithium from Albemarle, based in Charlotte, will increase domestic production of lithium for the nation’s battery supply chain, the Pentagon said in a news release.
The agreement under the Defense Production Act will help reopen the Kings Mountain lithium mine, which will support the manufacturing of about 1.2 million electric vehicles annually, officials said.
“The agreement with Albemarle demonstrates the DoD’s ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of our warfighter, today and in the future,” said Mr. Anthony Di Stasio, director of Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization.
The 800-acre site for the Kings Mountain mine is off Interstate 85 about 35 miles west of Charlotte.
The previous owners mined there from the 1940s until the 1980s. However, the mine was closed as the industry focused on cheaper lithium sources in South America.
Albemarle has been operating a lithium research and processing facility in the Kings Mountain community since 2012, the company said.
Albemarle said the area is “well known” for lithium resources and “Kings Mountain is believed to be among one of the largest resources in the world.”
The planned Kings Mountain mine contains one of the few known hard rock lithium deposits in the U.S., according to the company.
The agreement with Albemarle came through The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Industrial Base Policy with the Department of Defense.
Albemarle estimates that the Kings Mountain mine will become operational as early as late 2026.
In another recent Biden administration move, the Department of Energy said last week it was investing $150 million to promote domestic production of critical minerals needed for the transition to cleaner energy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report