Deal offers option to secure U.S.-processed graphite from 2027
Partnership with U.S. firm expanded in efforts to comply with IRA rules
SEOUL, South Korea – SK On, a leading global electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer, announced today it has signed a conditional offtake agreement with U.S. graphite company Westwater Resources Inc. in a move to secure battery-grade natural graphite in North America.
Under the terms of the agreement, SK On can source a total of 34,000 tons of natural graphite anode products processed at Westwater’s Kellyton Graphite Plant located near Kellyton, Ala., from 2027 to 2031. SK On plans to use the product for its battery manufacturing facilities in the U.S.
The latest deal expands the existing partnership between the two companies. SK On and Westwater inked a joint development agreement last year and have been working together to develop environmentally responsible, high-performance anode materials tailored for SK On batteries.
Anode is one of the four main components for lithium-ion batteries along with cathode, electrolyte and separator. It determines the battery life and charging speed. Currently, graphite is the dominating anode material in commercial lithium-ion batteries.
The deal is expected to boost SK On’s plans to strengthen its supply chain in North America, while demonstrating its efforts to comply with the rules of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
“We will continue seeking partnerships with promising battery material companies in the region,” said Park Jong-jin, Vice President of Strategic Purchasing at SK On.
“We are excited to partner with a leading global manufacturer of EV batteries and assist SK On to further establish its U.S.-based supply chain,” said Terence Cryan, Westwater’s Executive Chairman.
SK On currently operates two EV battery plants in Commerce, Ga. The South Korean battery maker is also building three battery plants in the U.S. with Ford Motor Co. BlueOval SK, the joint venture between SK On and Ford, plans to operate two battery plants in Glendale, Ky., and one factory in Stanton, Tenn.
SK On is also building an EV battery plant in Bartow County, Ga., through a joint venture with Hyundai Motor Group. SK On is part of SK Group, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, with global leading companies in the areas of energy, semiconductors and biopharmaceuticals.
Established in 1977, Westwater Resources is an energy technology company focused on developing U.S.-based battery-grade natural graphite anode materials. Headquartered in Centennial, Colo., the company holds mineral rights to explore and potentially mine the Coosa Graphite Deposit that is located across 42,000 acres in Coosa County, Ala.