US 'clean energy' loan for Australian plant in Louisiana

An Australian company's Louisiana subsidiary can get up to $107 million in U.S. Department of Energy loans to expand a plant that produces materials for electric car batteries the department said Monday.

The loan to Syrah Technologies LLC would be the Biden administration's second clean energy loan.

The money is expected to enable the plant to produce enough graphite-based "active anode material" for about 2.5 million by 2040, "saving an estimated 970 million gallons of gasoline," according to a department blog post.

It would reactivate a program last used more than a decade ago during the Obama administration to lend money to and would be the program's first use for a supply chain project, the department said. It said previous Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loans went to Ford, Nissan and Tesla.

"Importantly, this project also provides a socially and environmentally responsible U.S. supply chain for graphite," the Energy Department said.

Syrah's plant is in Vidalia, a city of 4,000 on the Mississippi River about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Baton Rouge. It uses graphite from Syrah's huge mine in Mozambique.

Tesla signed a contract in December 2021 with Syrah Resources of Melbourne, Australia, and Syrah Technologies announced plans for a $177,000 expansion in Vidalia two months later. Gov. John Bel Edwards' office said Syrah would add 36 jobs to the 19 employees it had at the time.

The federal loan will create 98 permanent and 150 construction jobs, the Energy Department said.

"Several steps remain, and certain conditions must be satisfied before the Department issues a final loan," the blog post said. It did not say what those are.


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