On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk joined Texas Governor Greg Abbott at the groundbreaking ceremony for Tesla's lithium refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Tesla plans to invest $375 million in the plant, which will help ensure its domestic supply of lithium hydroxide in the United States. Lithium hydroxide is a key raw material for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries as well as home and utility-scale batteries.
The lithium refinery will make Tesla the only major North American automaker to refine its own lithium.
Musk said Tesla's goal is to produce enough battery-grade lithium at the plant to supply one million vehicles per year and to produce more lithium than all other North American refineries combined.
However, Musk also said that Tesla will continue to buy lithium from suppliers that include Albemarle Corp and Livent Corp.
Musk also said that Tesla aims to complete construction of the plant next year and then achieve full production in about a year's time.
The groundbreaking ceremony was also attended by Texas Governor Tony Abbott, who praised Musk as the greatest entrepreneur on the planet.
Cleaner, more byproducts
In a document previously submitted to the Texas Comptroller's Office, Tesla promised that "the process Tesla [the lithium refinery] will use is innovative and designed to consume fewer hazardous reagents and produce usable byproducts than traditional processes."
"There are no toxic emissions or anything else - you can live in the middle of a refinery without any adverse effects. So they're very clean operations." Musk said Monday.
Last April, Musk said that Tesla may need to enter the lithium refining field because the cost of this metal "has reached insane levels.
However, since Musk's comments, the price of lithium has fallen sharply.
China still controls more than half of the world's lithium processing and refining capacity, while the U.S. controls just 1 percent. Musk said the availability of battery-grade lithium is a "fundamental bottleneck" for the electric car industry and other industries.
Tesla said last month that the recent plunge in the price of lithium and other commodities will help boost Tesla's margins for the rest of the year.