Ascend Elements and SK ecoplant have announced plans to construct a $65.8 million lithium-ion battery recycling facility in Christian County that will create 60 full-time jobs for Kentuckians.
“I want to once again thank Ascend Elements for investing in the commonwealth, as well as welcome its new partner, SK ecoplant, to our state,” Gov. Beshear said. “Our automotive and EV-related growth has shown no signs of slowing down as we continue to position ourselves as the national leader in the electric future. This is another great project bringing dozens of quality jobs to West Kentucky, and I look forward to all this partnership can achieve as part of Team Kentucky.”
The project to build a 100,000-square-foot facility comes as part of a joint venture between Ascend Elements, SK ecoplant and its subsidiary, TES. Construction is expected to begin in November with completion scheduled for January 2025. The operation will annually produce around 12,000 metric tons of black mass, a fine powder that contains the valuable cathode and anode materials inside an EV battery.
The black mass produced at the Hopkinsville facility will help supply Ascend Elements’ nearby Apex 1 engineered battery materials facility, an approximately $1 billion project announced in 2022 that is currently under construction. Apex 1 is on schedule to begin operation in 2024 and will be North America’s first sustainable cathode precursor (pCAM) and cathode active material (CAM) manufacturing facility. At full capacity, the Apex 1 project will produce enough pCAM for approximately 750,000 new EVs each year.
“With this joint venture, we are deepening our relationship with SK ecoplant and also reaffirming our commitment to Southwestern Kentucky,” said Michael O’Kronley, CEO of Ascend Elements. “The EV battery materials industry will continue to grow in the United States, and Kentucky is at the center of it all. I’d like to thank Gov. Beshear and his staff for their partnership as we work to accelerate the global transition to clean energy and bring good jobs to the community.”
Ascend Elements was founded in 2015 and is based in Westborough, Massachusetts. The company is the leading provider of sustainable, closed-loop battery material solutions. Its hydro-to-cathode direct precursor synthesis technology produces new CAM from spent lithium-ion cells more efficiently than traditional methods, which results in lower costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Serving as the key player of SK Group’s green business, South Korea-based SK ecoplant changed its name from SK Engineering and Construction in May 2021 and expanded into an environmental energy solutions business. The company has undertaken more than 100 projects in various international locations. Its affiliated company, TES, is a global organization specializing in sustainable technology lifecycle services and e-waste recycling in Singapore, which operates 46 treatment facilities in 23 countries.
Christian County Judge/Executive Jerry Gilliam highlighted the additional job creation for the region: “Christian County is thrilled to welcome SK ecoplant, our region’s 23rd international company, while supporting Ascend Elements’ continued growth in our region. Christian County and our region remain hot spots for industrial development, with this latest announcement being another significant opportunity for Southwestern Kentucky. We look forward to working with company leadership and ensuring they take full advantage of our young, diverse and growing workforce in our less taxing, more relaxing environment.”
Hopkinsville Mayor James Knight welcomed the joint venture to the community: “The city of Hopkinsville welcomes Ascend Elements’ newest partner, SK ecoplant, to our community recognizing the tremendous opportunity the joint venture will create in new jobs and significant capital investment. On behalf of our residents and city council, I pledge the city’s full support to ensure the partnership’s success for years to come.”
Carter Hendricks, executive director of the South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council, thanked those who played a role in making this project possible: “We are honored to welcome our first South Korean company as part of the joint venture with Ascend Elements. We thank the company’s leadership and vision to create nearly 60 awesome jobs and a $65 million capital investment. We also offer our sincere appreciation to Gov. Andy Beshear, Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Jeff Noel, TVA Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley and city and county governments for providing a business-friendly region.”
John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development, welcomed the addition to the commonwealth: “TVA and Pennyrile RECC congratulate Ascend Elements and SK ecoplant on their decision to establish operations in Christian County. Helping to attract and retain quality jobs and investment in the region is fundamental to TVA’s mission of service. We are proud to partner with the South Western Kentucky Economic Development Council, city of Hopkinsville, Christian County and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to further that mission and look forward to the joint venture’s future business success.”
A detailed community profile for Christian County can be viewed here.
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