Elon Musk says lithium refiners 'print money' as the largest producer breaks ground on a huge solid-state battery factory
During Tesla's latest quarterly results press conference, Elon Musk said that lithium mining companies need to go into refining as well, since the activity is currently a "license to print money." While this was a bit of an exaggeration, since refining sill needs huge capital outlays and a number of permits, the premise was that there is such a dearth of companies that can refine lithium to EV battery grade, that they can charge whatever they want and get away with it.
Most of these companies are in China, and Ganfeng Lithium is the largest refiner, taking advantage of its pole position to announce the largest factory for solid-state batteries in its homeland. Initial capacity is expected to be 10 GWh of purely solid-state play. While WeLion, NIO's semi-solid-state battery supplier, also broke ground of a giant 100 GWh plant back in February, its initial 20 GWh capacity will be split between the hybrid solid-liquid packs that it will start shipping to NIO in September, and other batteries, while Ganfeng's factory seems to be exclusively for solid-state packs.
Ganfeng also has a hybrid liquid-solid solution that went into the first commercial vehicles with semi-solid batteries - a taxi fleet - but it is now working on a second generation solid-state cells. It already lists an all solid-state battery pack with 350 Wh/kg energy density to the attention of electric vehicle makers. For comparison, its hybrid liquid-solid solution has a run-of-the-mill, up to 210 Wh/kg energy density.
What Ganfeng Lithium dubs the largest solid-state battery factory in China is located in Chongqing's industrial Liangjiang New Area and broke ground on Saturday. The world's biggest battery-grade lithium producer said it will have a total floor area of 570,000 square meters where both a cell production and a packing department will be placed, augmented by a solid-state battery research institute.