South Korean battery manufacturer SK On has signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with US graphite company Westwater Resources (NYSE: WWR) as part of efforts to strengthen its battery raw material supply chain in North America.
Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop environmentally responsible anode materials tailored for SK On batteries. If the project shows successful results, SK On will consider 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, and is also building three EV battery plants in the US with Ford. BlueOval SK, SK On/Ford joint venture, plans to operate two battery plants in Glendale, Kentucky, and one in Stanton, Tennessee. SK On recently agreed with Hyundai to establish an EV battery plant in Bartow County, Georgia, through a joint venture.
Colorado-based Westwater Resources is focused on developing US-based battery-grade natural graphite anode materials. The company holds mineral rights to explore and potentially mine the Coosa Graphite Deposit located across 42,000 acres in Alabama. 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.
“SK On has been pursuing strategic partnerships to secure high-quality battery raw materials to support our growing US manufacturing base,” said Sun Heeyoung, SK On Vice President in charge of advanced research. “With this agreement, we will continue to look for options that can strengthen our materials supply chain in North America and ensure we can help meet the increasing demand for electric vehicles in the US.”
“The JDA with SK On is another major advancement in Westwater’s graphite business, and we are extremely excited to partner with a leading global battery manufacturer,” said Terence Cryan, Westwater’s Executive Chairman. “Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, many battery manufacturers have sought to secure North American anode material from our Kellyton plant.”
Source: Westwater Resources