SK On, Westwater Resources to develop anode materials; boosting raw battery material supply chain in N America
SK On, a leading electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer, signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with US graphite company Westwater Resources (WWR) as part of efforts to strengthen its battery raw material supply chain in North America following the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop environmentally responsible, high-performance anode materials tailored for SK On batteries. Should the project end with successful results, SK On will consider an option of sourcing Westwater’s anode materials for use at its battery manufacturing facilities in the US.
SK On currently operates two EV battery plants in Commerce, Georgia. The South Korean battery maker is also building three EV battery plants in the US with Ford Motor Co. BlueOval SK, the joint venture between SK On and Ford, plans to operate two battery plants in Glendale, Kentucky, and one factory in Stanton, Tennessee.
SK On recently agreed with Hyundai Motor Group to establish an EV battery plant in Bartow County, Georgia, through a joint venture.
Established in 1977, Westwater Resources is an energy technology company focused on developing US-based battery-grade natural graphite anode materials. Headquartered in Centennial, Colorado, the company holds mineral rights to explore and potentially mine the Coosa Graphite Deposit that is located across 42,000 acres in Coosa County, Alabama.
From the late 1800s through the 1950s, the Alabama Graphite Belt was home to significant graphite production. Large portions of the deposits found in this region are characterized by graphite-bearing material that is oxidized and has been weathered into extremely soft rock. Westwater Resources acquired the mineral rights to the Coosa Graphite Project in April 2018.
Westwater is currently building a graphite processing plant in Kellyton, Alabama. The first phase of plant construction will produce 7,500 metric tons of refined graphite each year.
The latest US partnership with Westwater paves the way for sourcing anode materials in North America in the future as part of SK On’s efforts to diversify its supply chain with the goal of taking advantage of provisions with the IRA.