U.S.’s First Link to the Lithium Supply Chain in West Africa

by Carolyn Mathas

The Ewoyaa lithium project in Ghana is an essential part of the U.S. lithium supply chain. Piedmont Lithium, in Tennessee, is breaking ground on a lithium refinery, with construction set to start in 2024 and the first output expected in 2026. These are examples of resource nationalism, a growing trend as demand for mining resources surges.

When it starts producing, the Ewoyaa lithium project in Ghana is expected to become one of the first links in the nascent U.S. transition supply chain. The investment will help alleviate potential U.S. supply constraints and reduce America’s dependence on foreign nations like China.

Piedmont Lithium, a supplier for Tesla and L.G. Chem, is expected to have an annual capacity of 30,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide, tripling the current lithium refining capacity of the United States. It is also the second-largest shareholder in Australia-
based Atlantic Lithium, leading the Ghana project with subsidies granted under the Inflation Reduction Act by the Biden administration.

China is home to over 50% of the world’s lithium refining capacity and has a new lithium refinery in Zimbabwe, home to some of the most abundant lithium reserves. It is also a leader when it comes to reserves in Africa. The facility will have an annual capacity of four hundred fifty thousand tons of lithium concentrate to be further refined in China.

Ghana is a win for U.S. E.V. ambitions as long as sales stay strong. A new lithium mine not controlled by Chinese companies sounds like a good idea from a U.S. perspective, especially with a 50% offtake ensured by the IRA. No amount of legislation can ensure demand for the E.V.s.

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