Just as we previously reported, there's undoubtedly a lack of lithium for the growing number of electric cars hitting our roads. However, the shortage comes from the fact that there simply aren't enough lithium miners or refineries yet. Tesla has made a reputation for doing as much as possible "in-house," so as not to be reliant on others. The fact that the company may build a lithium refinery in North America makes sense.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been using social media to encourage folks to get into the lithium business, which the CEO called a license to print money. During Tesla's Q2 2022 earnings call in July 2022, Musk shared:
“I’d like to once again urge entrepreneurs to enter the lithium refining business. The mining is relatively easy, the refining is much harder. You can’t lose, it’s a license to print money."
Musk had previously stated that due to the rise in lithium prices, Tesla might have to enter the mining and refining business. He also reiterated that the lithium itself is abundant, but it's not being extracted or refined quickly enough. This will only be further complicated by the exponential spike in EV adoption.
Based on multiple reports, Tesla is considering running its own lithium refinery in North America. Documents obtained by Bloomberg point to Tesla's application for related tax breaks in Texas, so there's an assumption the company's potential lithium business could call Texas home.
According to the reported documents, Tesla may be looking beyond simply refining. The paperwork suggests the automaker is also looking into battery materials processing and manufacturing, among other related fields. The documents also note that Tesla has developed its own safe and efficient process for refining, and it aims to process raw materials into materials that are ready for battery production.
Tesla appears to be considering Nueces County, Texas, which allows for excellent access to the Gulf Coast shipping channel. The company is also considering the US state of Louisiana. If the plan moves forward, the goal is to begin construction by the end of 2022 with a potential for completion and operation by Q4 2024.