The collaboration aims to support Albemarle’s efforts to establish Kings Mountain, N.C. as the first-ever zero-emissions lithium mine site in North America. These efforts include utilization of next-generation, battery-powered mining equipment. Caterpillar and Albemarle signed an agreement making Albemarle’s North American-produced lithium available for use in Caterpillar battery production. The two companies will also explore opportunities to collaborate on research and development of battery cell technology and recycling techniques.
“At Albemarle, we are committed to building a more resilient world. Our partners are critical to achieving that impact, and this collaboration with Caterpillar exhibits how we ‘walk the talk’ to pioneer what’s next. It’s a win-win-win scenario, in which we are both customers and suppliers of each other, and the innovation we pursue together benefits the world,” said Eric Norris, Albemarle’s energy storage president.
“Beyond supplying infrastructure and materials, the battery-powered Caterpillar machinery and potential improvements to cell technology will open up new possibilities for the future of sustainable mining,” said Norris. “We look forward to replicating at Kings Mountain the same progress that we have made toward social and environmental responsibility at our Salar de Atacama operation, where we became the first lithium producer in the world to complete a third-party audit and publish our report through the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance’s (IRMA) stringent standard.”
Rod Shurman, senior vice president of electrification and energy solutions at Caterpillar, said: “Caterpillar is developing lithium-ion batteries and battery-electric products today for our customers around the world who, like Albemarle, are driving toward net zero carbon emissions goals.
“The agreements for lithium offtake and potential collaboration on R&D signed today will help to advance this work and further build out a secure, resilient and sustainable value chain for electrified equipment across the Caterpillar portfolio, while also supporting Albemarle’s journey to more sustainable operations.”
Anita Natesh, Albemarle’s commercial VP for North America, Europe and India for energy, added: "Through this collaboration with Caterpillar, Albemarle is creating a new pathway where we can make a global impact – outside of the leadership we’re known for with EVs.
“Together with Caterpillar, we will bring more sustainable mining equipment to market… and in the process, demonstrate that our commitment to powering the clean energy transition extends beyond our collaborations with auto OEMs.”
The announcement comes on the heels of Albemarle’s recent award of US$90m from the Department of Defense, to help support the expansion of domestic mining and the production of lithium for the nation’s battery supply chain.