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Lithium mining company plans to open research facility in Valley, create hundreds of jobs

Phoenix Business Journal

Arizona Lithium Ltd. revealed plans to open a technologically advanced research and processing facility in the Valley and create hundreds of jobs.

Arizona Lithium, an Australian company that’s working on the Big Sandy open-pit lithium mining project in northern Arizona, said it has committed to the state for its new facility, which will bring more than 300 new jobs to the state.

The new facility will focus on technological advancements in lithium processing and will advance the battery materials industry in Arizona, the company said. The research facility is expected to be operational this year in a 15,000 to 20,000-square-foot space.

“This decision was made possible due to Arizona’s low cost, low regulatory environment,” said Paul Lloyd, managing director of Arizona Lithium in a statement. “We have spent nearly 12 months undertaking due diligence regarding site selection for our facilities, and the business environment in Arizona solidified our decision in selecting Arizona.”

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council said Arizona Lithium has not finalized a location for its facility. The Big Sandy lithium project is being developed by Australia-based Hawkstone Mining, according to reports about the project.

News of the facility comes as the U.S. tries to ramp up its lithium-ion battery production to support the anticipated growth of the electric vehicle industry. Domestic supply is constrained because most of the world’s lithium-ion batteries are produced in Asia, a situation that federal lawmakers are working to change with the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.

The company said it also accepted a grant for $1 million from the Arizona Commerce Authority and is eligible for financial programs related to capital investment and job creation totaling more than $100 million.

According to the company, Arizona state law enables Big Sandy to receive grant funding and other statutorily obligated tax exemptions over the life of the project.

“The company will utilize statutory business expansion and attraction financial programs that could amount to more than $100 million,” Arizona Lithium said in a statement.

The cost savings applied to the project are related to its capital investment and job creation in the state, the company said, adding that the tax exemptions are applied to property taxes, research and development costs and some operational expenses.

The Arizona Commerce Authority said Arizona Lithium has not received any financial incentives from the state to date but is eligible for incentives and statutory exemptions through the Foreign Trade Zone, Arizona Additional Depreciation Program, Electricity and Natural Gas Exemption, Qualified Facility Tax Credit and Arizona Competes fund. The final amount depends on the performance of the company and applications.

Based on the project parameters, the ACA said the maximum amount Arizona Lithium would be eligible for under these programs is about $116 million.

About Big Sandy project

The Big Sandy Project is located along U.S. Route 93 between Phoenix and Las Vegas and comprises 6,177 acres and 331 Bureau of Land Management claims in Wikieup, Arizona.

The Big Sandy Project is also located between Tesla’s gigafactory in Nevada and the proposed KORE Power battery plant, Nikola Corp.’s manufacturing facility and Lucid Motors’ facility.

In the first quarter of this year, the company said it raised $32.5 million to fast-track the development of the Big Sandy Project. The capital raised will “significantly expedite development as we continue to progress toward lithium production and further capitalize on the shift toward an electric future,” Lloyd said in a statement in April.

The funds will also be used for a demonstration/pilot plant, potential associated land purchases and exploration.

Arizona Lithium said it also entered into a memorandum of understanding with Nikola Corp. in the first quarter to purchase battery electric vehicles, which will be used during the research and processing facility stage, the company said.

Arizona Lithium said it expects to acquire up to 50 Nikola Tre BEVs and has the option to purchase up to 100 trucks through the MOU.

 


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