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The United States Department of Defence has approved a $90 million grant to help support the expansion of Albemarle’s domestic mining and lithium production for the US’ battery supply chain.

The funding will be provided by the office of the assistant secretary of defence for industrial base policy, and will be used to purchase a fleet of mining equipment as part of Albemarle’s plans to reopen its lithium mine in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.

The Kings Mountain lithium mine produces battery-grade lithium hydroxide, lithium bromide, lithium chloride, USP-grade lithium carbonate, high purity lithium carbonate, battery grade lithium metal products and lithium alloy powders.

The mine contains one of the few known hard rock lithium deposits in the US and is expected to feed necessary material for 50 kilotons (kt) of lithium carbonate equivalent to support the manufacturing of about 1.2 million electric vehicles annually.

The mine is expected to become operational in late 2026.

“As one of the only US-based lithium companies to carry out lithium extraction, processing, and novel lithium battery material research in the US, Albemarle is uniquely positioned to help power the clean energy revolution,” Albemarle president of energy storage Eric Norris said.

“Lithium is an essential ingredient in our sustainable energy future. Demand is expected to increase significantly, and it is imperative to secure our nation’s supply of this critical resource.”

Last week, Albemarle confirmed its acquisition of Liontown Resources. Since then, Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has gained a shareholding of 7.72 per cent in Liontown, raising questions if whether a rival bid will be raised.