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Groundbreaking for Tesla lithium refinery brings Musk and Abbott to Robstown

Posted at 2:29 PM, May 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-08 23:25:58-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott and Tesla CEO Elon Musk were in Robstown on Monday along and other local, state, and federal leaders for the official groundbreaking of Tesla's lithium refining facility. The $375 million refinery will be located south of Robstown on US 77 and county road 28.

A first-of-its-kind in North America, the Tesla refinery will produce battery-grade lithium and house battery materials processing, refining, and manufacturing operations.

"We need lithium for the phone in your hands, the batteries that will be in Tesla trucks, for other purposes. Texas wants to be able to increase our ablility to refine lithium. You have taken that step with this project," Governor Greg Abbott said today at the groundbreaking.

Tesla representatives say the plant is a "near environmentally neutral site" meaning it has little to no impact on the surrounding environment.

"There's no toxic emissions or anything, you could live right in the middle of the refinery and not suffer any ill effects," said Musk.

"The byproduct that is produced is much more inert, it's basically a mix of sand and limestone," said Turner Caldwell, a Sr. Manager for Tesla, who went on to say they are looking into beneficial use opportunites for the byproduct, likely in the construction sector.

With this refinery, Tesla hopes to produce enough battery-grade lithium at the refinery to manufacture one million vehicles per year, with the potential to expand that output.

On the economic side, state and local leaders hope tesla choosing the coastal bend for the refinary will be the catalyst for more companies to choose this area to invest into.

"Texas is going to be more self-reliant today than we were yesterday because of the leadership right here in Nueces County, Texas," Abbott added. "We will see a wave of jobs coming to Corpus Christi and Nueces County, this is just one of the projects that will be providing those jobs that will elevate Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Robstown...the entire area."

"They've got an option on additional land, I mean I think you are going to see Tesla in Nueces County for many many years to come, this is phenomenal," said Nueces County Commissioner Brent Chesney.

Construction is expected to be finished within a year, and the refinery will be in full production within 2 years.

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