Cut the emissions in the state and then let them expand. You can’t have it both ways but that is the Louisiana way.

A Vidalia plant that processes graphite used in electric vehicle batteries for companies including Tesla has announced plans for a $176 million expansion. Syrah Resources said the expansion will lead to hiring 36 more employees, with average annual salaries of $69,000 plus benefits. The company already has 19 workers. Louisiana Economic Development said the expansion will create 52 indirect jobs in central Louisiana. Syrah plan to add 180,000 square feet of building and processing space to its existing 50,000-square-foot plant. This will allow the facility to process graphite into active anode material used in lithium-ion batteries used in EV. In December, Syrah reached an agreement with Tesla to provide AAM for use in batteries. The work is expected to begin this spring and hiring will begin around the middle of the year. The construction is set to be completed by mid-2023, with AAM production beginning in the fall.

The company has been her for a short 4 years and had trouble finding a site.

Syrah set up shop in Vidalia in 2018 after the Australian company spent more than two years searching for a site in Louisiana. The company initially selected a Port Manchac location as its preferred site.  However, local officials backed away from an agreement to lease the facility to Syrah, citing a wide range of concerns about air and water discharge, especially into popular fishing areas in the waterway connecting Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain. Public comments filed with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality included several hundred signatures from residents in opposition. The Vidalia expansion will allow for the annual production of an estimated 11,250 tons of AAM. Syrah’s goal is to become a major AAM supplier for the growing EV market.

There is a lot of transportation involved in this operation as the raw product is not nearby.

The plant processes graphite from Syrah’s Mozambique production operation and is shipped to the Port of New Orleans, then trucked to Vidalia. Shaun Verner, CEO of Syrah, said in a statement this will be the first AAM facility in Louisiana. “Louisiana has all the right elements for the development of new technology in the manufacturing sector, including a vision for sustainable development that aligns well with Syrah’s values,” he said in a statement. The state offered Syrah an incentive package that includes the services of LED Fast Start. The company is also expected to utilize the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs.

Syrah has been in Louisiana for a while as they have used these incentives before.

Syrah is no stranger to Louisiana’s incentive programs. The company already has existing deals through the state’s ITEP and Quality Jobs programs, according to records from LED. In June 2019, the state Board of Commerce and Industry approved an ITEP application for Syrah that granted the company $389,000 worth of property tax relief in the contract’s first year. In October 2019, the board approved a Quality Jobs contract that gave Syrah a $227,000 credit for creating new jobs. Syrah has a pending ITEP application with the board, filed in May 2020, for a $1.25 million project to build a kiln furnace to convert purified spherical graphite into AAM. LED records show the board has yet to approve that application.

The state cares about jobs and the pay and ignores any costs involved toward the environment or social costs. They need to look at all the costs not just the basic ones.

Graphite plant to expand – more jobs, more emissions
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