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Albemarle and Caterpillar to collaborate on sustainable mining operations

By Brock Huffstutler

October 1, 2023

Albemarle Corp., Charlotte, N.C., a provider of elements for mobility, energy, connectivity and health, has entered into an agreement with Caterpillar, Irving, Texas, to collaborate on solutions to support the full circular battery value chain and sustainable mining operations.

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. The company’s efforts include utilization of next-generation, battery-powered mining equipment. Caterpillar and Albemarle’s agreement makes Albemarle’s North American-produced lithium available for use in Caterpillar battery production. The two companies said they also will 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,” Norris said. “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.”

“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,” said Rod Shurman, senior vice president of electrification and energy solutions, Caterpillar. “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.”

“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,” said Anita Natesh, commercial VP for North America, Europe and India for energy storage, Albemarle. “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.”

“By working together, we have the opportunity to support Albemarle’s goal of becoming the first zero-emissions lithium producer in North America while contributing to a more sustainable future for the mining industry,” said Rob Hoenes, senior vice president of resource industries operations and products, Caterpillar.

The announcement follows Albemarle’s recent award of $90 million 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.