Australian mining company Element 25 has announced that it will build a production facility in Ascension Parish in the US state of Louisiana for one of the chemicals vital in the production of batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs).

The $480m facility will be the first in the western hemisphere to manufacture high-purity manganese sulfate monohydrate (HPMSM). The project will be developed in two phases, with construction due to commence in the third quarter of 2023 and operations in 2026. A final decision on site location is expected to be announced by the end of June.

Element 25 says the facility will create up to 2,000 new direct jobs with average annual salaries of $90,000. Investment promotion agency Louisiana Economic Development says the plant will create a further 408 indirect jobs in the region.

The state of Louisiana has provided a number of incentives to attract the investment from Element 25. These include a $6m performance-based grant for reimbursement of infrastructure expenditures, while the company is also expected to apply for the state’s tax exemption schemes for businesses creating quality jobs.

Element 25 will import the raw materials for the HPMSM production facility from its Butcherbird mine in Western Australia, but it says many other inputs will be sourced locally. The facility will also create three reusable byproduct streams that can be repurposed as fertiliser feedstocks for steel manufacturing and other industrial purposes.

HPMSM is the highest-purity ‘battery grade’ manganese sulphate and is required for the production of pre-cathode active materials used in EV batteries. Huge investments are being made in US EV and battery production as the competition to be global hubs for these technologies intensifies.

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Element 25 is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. It says its planned HPMSM plant will produce a nominal 65,000 tonnes (t) per year, expanding to 130,000t per year once a second train has been completed.