Bulletins

Tesla wants to get into lithium refining

Construction could begin on the potential Texas lithium hydroxide facility this year, and it would be “the first of its kind in North America.”

Elon Musk giving the thumbs up and smiling.

Tesla wants to fix its lithium supply chain.

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The world's leading EV is angling to get into the lithium refining game.

In a letter to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, Tesla said it is “evaluating the possible development of a battery-grade lithium hydroxide refining facility” in the state in order to supply its own battery factories with the mineral critical for battery-making. Prices of lithium, as well as of other minerals needed for the energy transition, have skyrocketed in recent years.


Getting into lithium refining has been on the mind of Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk for a while. In April, he tweeted that the “price of lithium has gone to insane levels” and that Tesla “might actually have to get into the mining [and] refining directly at scale” if things do not improve. On a company earnings call in July, he encouraged entrepreneurs to explore lithium refining and described it as a “license to print money,” given the dearth of capacity.

If the company’s application is approved and the facility gets built, it would be “the first of its kind in North America,” Tesla said. Construction on the facility could begin as soon as the fourth quarter of this year, and could be ready for commercial operations by the end of 2024, the company added.

While Tesla explicitly stated that it is still evaluating the project’s feasibility and it remains in very early stages, the application represents the company’s attempt to get the state to offer a break on local property taxes for the potential plant. Tesla is evaluating a site in Nueces County, Texas, though the company said in the letter that it is also looking at one in Louisiana. The only necessity, Tesla said, is Gulf Coast shipping channel access.

Tesla certainly is not alone in prioritizing lithium access. As legacy automakers crowd into the EV market that Tesla has dominated for more than a decade, securing battery supplies has been top of mind industrywide.

In light of Ford’s goal of building 2 million EVs per year by the end of 2026, the company made a number of agreements in July to buy raw materials for its batteries. The bulk of these are with Chinese and Korean companies, including one particularly prominent deal with the Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited, the largest battery-pack supplier in the world. A mere week later, GM followed suit with its own slew of agreements with its own suppliers.

The lack of U.S. representation among these large suppliers of battery raw materials underscores the fact that the country lacks a domestic supply chain for battery materials and components that major automakers are increasingly demanding. While there are small mining operations, refining (especially for lithium) currently happens exclusively overseas.

But that may be about to change, and not just because Tesla is weighing whether to enter the refinery fray. In May, the Biden administration announced investments of nearly $3.2 billion in lithium-ion battery manufacturing, processing and recycling on U.S. soil. Meanwhile, the Inflation Reduction Act also included an influx of cash for the sector. The law also requires automakers to source a growing percentage of their domestic battery components and materials for their EVs if they want the vehicles to qualify them to qualify for tax credits.
Latest Bulletins

Pour one out for the Lightning cable.

Keep Reading Show less

Carbon dioxide removal service buyers and sellers are focused on one metric: $100 per ton. It’s one of Frontier’s stated criteria that the fund uses to evaluate its advance purchases. In a survey of the long-duration carbon removal community, CarbonPlan found that stakeholders are focused on the $100 benchmark. The Department of Energy even announced that it would be investing in carbon removal research to bring the cost of the technology down to $100 per ton.

Keep Reading Show less

When Google announced the closure of its Stadia cloud gaming platform last week, the news was delivered at roughly the same time to employees, partners, and players on Thursday morning. Within hours, it had become clear that Stadia’s shutdown, planned for next January, would involve more than just refunding consumer purchases and quietly bowing out.

Now developers are scrambling to salvage planned projects, migrate players to other platforms, and figure out whether they’re still owed money from Google before the search giant puts Stadia out to pasture for good.

Keep Reading Show less

Trading of Twitter shares was briefly halted midday as CNBC and Bloomberg reported that Elon Musk now plans to go through with his deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share. The news was later confirmed.

Keep Reading Show less

The U.S. is set to unveil a fresh set of policies Thursday aimed at choking off China’s access to advanced chip manufacturing technology and the chips themselves, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Keep Reading Show less

Companies like Meta and Lyft have stopped hiring for the year, and that’s music to the ears of other tech companies that are still staffing up. Much of talent sourcing still takes place on LinkedIn, but many recruiters have found their own techniques to use the service more efficiently. We asked LinkedIn’s VP of talent acquisition and three outside recruiters for their best LinkedIn hacks for sourcing talent.

Keep Reading Show less

Kim Kardashian broke the internet, and according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, she also broke the securities laws.

Keep Reading Show less

On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that makes phone calls from California’s prisons free of charge. The new law places the cost of calls not on incarcerated people — or the people receiving calls from them — but on the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

California is the second state after Connecticut and the biggest state by far to institute such a law, which is a direct shot at the $1.4 billion prison telecom industry. For years prison telecom companies have maintained rates that “can be unjustly and unreasonably high, thereby impeding the ability of inmates and their loved ones to maintain vital connections,” the FCC said in 2020.

Prison reform advocates argue the new California law will have a hugely positive impact on the families of incarcerated people in California — and potentially other states that follow California's lead.

Keep Reading Show less

Rohit Chopra arrived as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau one year ago today. True to his reputation as an aggressive watchdog from his time as an FTC commissioner and an earlier stint at the CFPB, he has pursued a busy agenda that’s setting up regulatory battles to come.

Keep Reading Show less
Tech salaries are about to get a lot more transparent. On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law to require California employers to post salary ranges in job postings and report hourly pay data by employees’ race and sex to the state. We spoke with four employment lawyers and other pay transparency experts about what this means, and how to comply.
Keep Reading Show less

Microsoft said Friday it's "working on an accelerated timeline" to provide a patch for two newly disclosed vulnerabilities affecting Exchange email servers, which the company acknowledged have been used in attacks on customers.

Keep Reading Show less

Google is stepping up its push for open video formats: The company plans to force hardware manufacturers to support the AV1 video codec if they want to run Android 14 on their mobile devices, according to comments left in recent commits to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that were first spotted by Esper senior technical editor Mishaal Rahman.

Keep Reading Show less

A troubling new vulnerability affecting Microsoft Exchange email servers has been disclosed by researchers, though details are still emerging on the severity and exploitability of the flaw.

Keep Reading Show less

The gas-powered vehicle ban dominoes have begun to fall.

Keep Reading Show less

Tech industry groups are once again pleading with the 5th Circuit to block HB 20, Texas' on-again, off-again social media law, which the court recently allowed to take effect.

Keep Reading Show less

Sometimes a major "hack" isn't really a hack at all, such as with some breaches caused by the mishandling of APIs.

Keep Reading Show less

The neobank MoneyLion charged service members excessive fees for loans and often refused to cancel paid memberships, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Keep Reading Show less

Google is shutting down its Stadia cloud gaming service, nearly three years after its launch and roughly 18 months since the company shut down its internal game development division.

Keep Reading Show less

Amazon announced pay raises and the rollout of new benefit programs to warehouse employees Wednesday. But one of those products may pose increased risks to the company’s most precarious workers: the expanded rollout of Amazon’s Anytime Pay Program.

Keep Reading Show less

More pay transparency is coming to California. The Golden State is joining New York City, Colorado, and Washington in requiring employers to disclose pay ranges in job ads.

Keep Reading Show less

Cost-cutting in tech is officially hitting the industry’s titans. After years of ruthless staffing up, both Meta and Google have told some employees to find new jobs within the company or leave, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Keep Reading Show less

Calendly, the $3 billion scheduling startup that everyone likes to periodically fight about, has made its first acquisition: Prelude, a startup specializing in the hiring process. Prelude is specifically geared toward scheduling job interviews or other types of recruitment-related meetings.

Keep Reading Show less

Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky resigned from the embattled cryptocurrency lender Tuesday morning. The lender is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings after pausing withdrawals in June.

Keep Reading Show less

Brett Harrison announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that he would be stepping down from his role as president of FTX US and moving to an advisory role. He said he will continue working in the industry.

Keep Reading Show less

Russia set up a sprawling and sophisticated network of websites impersonating mainstream media outlets, which it used to spread anti-Ukrainian messaging that was amplified via fake social media accounts, Meta has found. In a new report published Tuesday, Meta called it Russia’s “largest and most complex” influence operation since the war in Ukraine began.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins