Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Congressman Mike Rogers, and numerous other state and local government officials and business leaders joined Westwater Resources Inc. and its subsidiary Alabama Graphite Products LLC in breaking ground for the construction of the company’s graphite processing plant in Kellyton, Alabama.

The $202 million plantwill process raw graphite into refined, battery-grade graphite for use in batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), electronics and many other products. When fully operational, it is expected to produce 7,500 metric tons of refined graphite each year.

“The construction of this plant is the result of a lot of work, cooperation, planning and vision by numerous people over a number of years,” said Chad Potter, president and CEO of Westwater Resources and Alabama Graphite Products.

Gov. Ivey said the plant will put Alabama at the top echelon in the production of an essential material for EVs and other batteries.

“This plant will make Alabama an even bigger player in the fast-growing electric vehicle sector,” Gov. Ivey said. “It also creates jobs and will serve as a catalyst for economic development in the region.”

The plant is being built by Alabama Graphite Products. Westwater Resources is a Colorado-based company focused on developing battery-ready natural graphite materials for advanced batteries and is committed to developing materials for clean, sustainable energy production.

The Kellyton plant will use a proprietary process to purify the feedstock and refine it into battery-grade graphite. This process is safer and more environmentally friendly and sustainable than the hydrofluoric acid-based process commonly used in China and elsewhere.

“Since our announcement in June of last year that we will build our state-of-the-art processing plant in Alabama, we have made significant investments in preparation for the operation of our plant,” Potter said. “We have purchased and renovated two large existing buildings adjacent to the plant site — one for warehousing and logistical uses, the other for our laboratory and administrative offices. As our investment of millions of dollars and our commitment to invest even more indicate, we are firmly committed to Alabama and this community, and we look forward to being here for many years to come.”

In addition to the processing plant, the company plans to continue advanced exploration activities of a graphite deposit in western Coosa County in the Alabama Graphite Belt. Westwater Resources acquired mineral rights to approximately 41,900 acres in 2018 and expects to begin mining operations by the end of 2028. Until then, the Kellyton plant will import feed graphite acquired from high-quality sources. There is currently no commercial-level graphite mining in the U.S.