- Battery maker SK On signed a development agreement with graphite producer Westwater Resources, securing additional supply of the mineral for its production needs.
- Under the deal, the two companies will collaborate to develop anode materials, a key lithium-ion battery component, customized for SK On batteries, according to an announcement.
- The graphite anode materials will be produced at Westwater Resources’ planned Kellyton processing plant outside Alexander City, Alabama. The $202 million plant is expected to begin initial production next year.
South Korea-based SK On has been on the hunt for graphite for months to support its production expansion in the U.S.
In January, the battery manufacturer signed a development agreement with U.S. graphite processor Urbix for supply of the mineral. Like its deal with Westwater Resources, the two companies are partnering to produce anode materials tailored for SK On’s batteries.
Together, the deals help secure a more localized graphite supply for the battery maker, which has previously sourced much of its material from China.
“SK On has been pursuing strategic partnerships to secure high-quality battery raw materials to support our growing U.S. manufacturing base,” Sun Heeyoung, SK On vice president in charge of advanced research, said in a statement. “With this agreement, we will continue to strengthen our materials supply chain in North America and ensure we can help meet the increasing demand for electric vehicles in the U.S.”
Westwater Resources teased an incoming supplier deal during its March earnings call, saying that it could include the sale of all graphite produced at its Kellyton plant in Alabama to an unnamed battery manufacturer.
"This is another significant advancement in our graphite business and our engagement with potential customers," Westwater Resources President and CEO Frank Bakker said on the call.
Like SK On, Westwater Resources is in expansion mode as it looks to capitalize on growing demand for domestically sourced EV battery material.
The company is rapidly looking to boost its production capacity, with plans to double throughput capacity during the initial phase of operations at the Kellyton plant, now up to 16,000 metric tons per year.